Skip to main content

Full text of "A short history of mediaeval peoples : from the dawn of the Christian era to the fall of Constantinople"

See other formats


do aU- ^*v. ^cu4: SmUk 



















The Founder of the Empire . 



Roman Literature — The Early Period . 

. 12 


Roman Literature — The Time of Cicero 

. 21 


Roman Literature — The Augustan Age . 

. 29 



. 37 


Gains (Caligula) 

. 47 


Claudius .... 

. 53 


The Christians 



Nero .... 



A War of Succession 

. 88 





Titus .... 

. 98 



. 105 


Nerva .... 

. 114 


Trajan .... 

. 117 


Hadrian .... 

. 127 


Antoninus Pius 

. 135 


Marcus Aurelius 

. 140 


Roman Literature under the Early Emperors 

. 149 



. 158 


Pertinax, Julianus, Septimius Severus . 

. 164 


Caracalla, Macrinus, Heliogabalus 

. 171 


Alexander Severus, Maximin, the Gordians 

Maximus and 

Balbinus, Gordian III., Philip 

. 181 


Decius, Gallus, .Slmilianus, V 


m, Galliei 

lus . . . 188 



XXV. Claudius, Aurelianu3, Tacitus, Probus, Carus, Carinus and 

Numerian 198 

XXVI. Diocletian 207 

XXVII. The Six Emperors 216 

XXVIII. Oonstantine the Great 222 

XXIX. The House of Oonstantine 233 

XXX. Jovian, Valentinian I., Valens, Gratian 241 

XXXI. Theodosius 250 

XXXII. Eeligious Leaders of the Fourth Century — Athanasius . 258 

XXXIII. Religious Leaders of the Fourth Century— Ulfilas, Basil . 266 

XXXIV. Religious Leaders of the Fourth Century — Gregory Nazian- 

zen, Ambrose 274 

XXXV. Religious Leaders of the Fourth Century — John Chrysostom, 

Jerome 283 

XXXVI. Augustine 294 

XXXVII. Alaric the Goth 300 

XXXVIII. The Breaking up of the West 309 

XXXIX. Attila the Scourge 317 

XL. The Vandals 325 

XLI. The Last Days of the Western Empire 332 

XLII. Why the Empire Fell 337 

XLIII. Theodoric the Great 344 

XLIV. Eight Emperors of the East 354 

XLV. Justinian 363 


I, Arabia 379 

II. Mecca 386 

III. Medina 396 

IV. Last Years of Mohammed 407 

V. The Early Caliphs 415 

VI. Hasan I Hosein ! 424 

VII. The Ommeyads 432 

VIII. The Abbassides 440 




I. What Led to the Crusades ? 451 

II. The First Crusade 462 

III. The Second Crusade 474 

IV. The Third Crusade 486 

V. The Fourth Crusade 496 

VI, The Fifth and Sixth Crusades 505 

VII. The End of Crusading 515 


I. The Successors of Justinian 626 

II. Maurice and Phocas 632 

III. Heraclius 538 

IV. Seventy Years of Turmoil 548 

V. A Dynasty of Reformers 566 

VI. Byzantium at its Zenith 569 

VII. A Macedonian Dynasty 580 

VIII. The House of Basil 590 

IX. The Seljukian Turk 600 

X. Alexius 1 609 

XI. The House of Comnenus 620 

XII. Byzantium Receives her Death Wound 629 

XIII. The Latins in Constantinople 639 

XIV. The Catalans, the Ottomans, Timour the Tartar . . .647 
XV. The End of the Empire 655 


Tables op Sovebeigns 663 

Index 667 



I. Roman Empire at its Widest Extent in the time of Trajan and 

Hadrian, about 117 a.d 127 

II. Roman Empire and the Barbarians about the time of Constantine, 

350 A.D 222 

III. Roman Empire thrust aside by the Barbarians about 500 a.d. . 344 

IV. Arabia 379 

V. Widest Limits of Moslem Rule before Byzantium fell . . . 447 

VI. The Crusades and the Greek Empire 522 





We concluded our former volume with a .sketch of the reign of 
Augustus, thinking that the history of the Roman Republic 
must be imperfect without his reign. But if the reign of 
Augustus is necessary for the true understanding of the his- 
tory of the republic, it is even more necessary for the true 
understanding of the history of the empire. We deem it 
better, therefore, to return to the history of this great man in 
the beginning of the present volume. Thus that which follows 
will be more intelligible, and each volume will be complete in 

The murder of Julius Caesar did not restore the republic as 44 B.C. 
his murderers had hoped it might, but led instead to a long 
war of succession. For the murderers themselves there was 
indeed no chance. Cfesar had been far more popular than they 
imagined and they only saved their lives by flight. Marcus 
Antonius was for the moment the foremost man in Rome. He 
got possession of Caesar's papers and made a free use of them, 
carrying laws, confiscating and granting property, and profes- 
sing that amongst Caesar's papers he had authority for all. 

There were two others who might conceivably be candi- 
dates for supreme rule ; Lepidus, the governor of Hither Spain 
and Gaul, and Sextus, a son of Pompey, whose power, that of 
an outlaw, lay in Further Spain and Sicily. With both of 
these men Antony established friendly relations, winning them 
by fair promises. 



Octavius, a grand-nephew of Julius Caesar, was living at 
Apollonia when his uncle was murdered. Hearing that he had 
been made his heir, he crossed to Italy and travelled to Rome. 
He was but nineteen and had little influence, but he could 
bide his time. 

Antony played his part in Rome so recklessly that he 
alarmed the Senate. When, therefore, he departed to Cis- 
alpine Gaul, Octavius persuaded them to send an army against 

43 B.C. him, led by the two consuls and himself. The battle of Mutina 
was fought, Antony was defeated, but both consuls were slain. 
Octavius now expected to be made commander-in-chief and a 
consul, but owing largely to Cicero's influence he was passed 
over. Angry at this, he marched on Rome in threatening 
fashion, whereupon Cicero and the other senators yielded and 
did as he desired. 

Lepidus had now brought his forces round and joined 
Antony near Forum Julii. Octavius marched to meet them, 
but instead of fighting they conferred at Bononia and agreed 
to divide the Roman world between them. The Triumvirate 
then came to Rome, and, sad to say, inaugurated their power 
by slaying their enemies and confiscating their property. 
Amongst their victims was Cicero who had insulted Octavius. 
Though the triumvirs claimed the Roman world they had 
not yet obtained possession. There were enemies in the field ; 
Sextus in Sicily with a powerful fleet ; Brutus and Cassius in 

42 B.C. Macedonia. Leaving Lepidus to take care of Italy, Antony 
and Octavius crossed from Brindisi to Macedonia, and de- 
feated Brutus and Cassius at Philippi. The regicides did not 
survive their defeat and the conquerors were able to make a 
fresh division of authority. Antony took the East, Octavius 
took Italy and the West, Lepidus received Africa. 

Antony now yielded to the soft influences of the East and 
lost ground ; Octavius attended to his government and gained 
the confidence of his subjects ; Lepidus had little influence. 

40 B.C. With some vague idea of asserting his rights and checking 

the growing power of Octavius, Antony crossed to Italy and 


laid siege to Brindisi. But neither he nor Octavius really 
wanted war, so he was pacified and returned to Greece, taking 
as his wife Octavia, his rival's sister. He had, however, 
already met Cleopatra, the famous Egyptian queen, and was 
wholly under her influence. 

Octavius also married again. The year before, he had 38 B.C. 
divorced Scribonia his wife, and now he married Livia, the 
wife of Tiberius Claudius Nero, a distinguished noble to whom 
she had already borne a son, Tiberius, afterwards emperor. 
Three months after her marriage with Octavius she bore 
another son to Tiberius Claudius. He was named Drusus, and 
became the father of Germanicus and of the Emperor Claudius. 

The power of Octavius increased continually. With the aid 
of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, a most able lieutenant, he over- 36 B.C. 
tlirew Sextus Pompeius and drove him from Sicily. He died 
the following year. Lepidus then tried to seize the island, but 
his troops deserted him, and he was deposed and exiled. Thus 
the whole of the West was united under Octavius, who had 
associated with him two most able ministers, Agrippa and 
Maecenas. These men helped him from the beginning and 
remained his faithful councillors throughout. 

In the East Antony was doing little good. His lieutenant, 
P. Ventidius Bassus, had done splendid service against Parthia, 
but Antony threw away all his chances and soon lost prestige. 
Cleopatra had now gained complete ascendency over him, and 
he was presenting Roman provinces to her and her sons. The 
Romans were indignant, the Senate by decree deprived him 32 B.C. 
of his command, and declared war on Cleopatra. 

At the battle of Actium the united forces of Antony and 
Cleopatra were overthrown by Agrippa, and the unhappy 31 B.C. 
lovers fled. At Alexandi-ia they were again attacked, and 30 B.C. 
being easily defeated they saved themselves the ignominy that 
would have attended captm'e by taking their own lives. 

Egypt was formally annexed and became a Roman pro- 

Octavius was now sole ruler of the Roman world. Julius 


Caesar had also been sole ruler, but Octavius was in a more 
powerful position than his great relative had been. Cfesar 
had been surrounded hy aristocrats, many of whom longed to 
recover the power of which he had deprived them. Some had 
been slain, such as remained were for the most part adherents 
of the Julian line. As for the people they were tired of civil 
war and thankful to obey any ruler who gave them peace. 

Octavius had a fine chance and he used it well. A man of 
rare administrative ability he gained the confidence of every 
class, and without appearing to grasp at power soon had every- 
thing centred in himself. He had won his power by the 
sword, but he invested it with a constitutional character, and 
harmonised it with the institutions of which the Romans had 
been proud and to which they still clung, reconciling autocratic 
rule with republican forms in a way which gave satisfaction 
to all. Years after when about to leave the human stage he 
asked the bystanders whether he had not fairly earned the 
applause of the Roman people. 
27 B.C. When the Roman world was at peace Octavius formally 

laid down the extraordinary authority with which he had 
been entrusted, and asked for a new and constitutional grant 
of power. The Senate accordingly granted to him the consular 
imperium for ten years, and elected him commander-in-chief 
with the exclusive right of levying troops, waging war and 
making treaties. He was made chief magistrate at home and 
was entrusted with the sole government of the most important 

Beside an able man possessed of such enormous power there 
could be no competitor, and Augustus, as he was now entitled, 
was supreme. More and more as time went on all power was 
gathered into his hands, yet with such show of legality and 
constitutional method that republicans were satisfied. More- 
over, the arrangement was avowedly temporary. The im- 
perium was granted originally for ten years, then renewed 
again and again. The powers thus conferred were afterwards 
embodied in a form of statute andcarriedfor each emperor in turn. 


Over this system of government Augustus presided for 
forty years, and when he died the empire was firmly estab- 
lished and the republic was a thing of the past. As a matter 
of fact the word republic had been losing its true significance 
in connection with Roman government long before the days of 
Augustus, In early days when Rome was but a city the word 
meant much, but when Rome conquered Italy and afterwards 
added conquest to conquest the word was meaningless. A 
vast empire governed by a handful of Roman nobles was no 
republic. Rome had become an oligarchy of the most selfish 
sort, and as there was no possibility of a retm-n to republican 
days it was better that the government should evolve into an 
autocracy. This change came about in the reign of Julius 
Caesar, who was emperor in all but name. Then came Augus- 
tus, a most worthy successor, and after him Tiberius, another 
able man. These three men estabhshed the imperial system so 
firmly that the republic was forgotten. 

The domestic reforms of Augustus have been dealt with in 
our first volume and need not be again detailed. It will suffice 
if we mention such matters as bear in an important degree 
upon the further history of the empire. The delimitation of 
the frontiers, the reorganisation of the army, and the establish- 
ment of a civil service are specially important. 

The Roman Empire was now of enormous area, and the 
frontier problem was of the highest importance. In some 
parts of the empire the question was simple enough. 

On the west Roman territory was bounded by the Atlantic 
and the English Channel, for Augustus made no attempt to 
cross to Britain. 

In the south, Africa, from the Delta to the Atlantic, was 
Roman. Here the desert formed a natural boundary, checking- 
all desire on the part of the Romans to advance farther, even 
though not preventing the incursions of the desert tribes into 
the province. 

In the east the frontier was less easily fixed. The Persian 
Empire of earlier times had made way for the Parthian with 


whose kings Rome had waged war not always successfully. 
For the Syrian province the desert boundary sufficed, and 
farther north the Euphrates was the natural boundary, though 
between it and the Roman province there lay certain native 
States such as Pontus and Cappadocia. Beyond the Euphrates 
lay Armenia, a State within the sphere of influence of both 
Rome and Parthia, concerning which quarrels would inevitably 
arise. Augustus preferred not to annex, believing that as a 
free and independent State it would form the surest defence 
for the empire. His judgment was right, and it would have 
been well had his successors adhered to his policy. 

On the north the question of frontier was specially serious. 
Gaul was now quite conquered, and had to be protected from 
the northern tribes. The question was whether the Rhine 
should be accepted as its frontier or whether the province 
should extend to the Elbe. The Rhine seemed the natural 
boundary, but tribes were wont to cross that river, and Julius 
Caesar had found it necessary to carry punitive expeditions 
into the country beyond. Campaigns were accordingly con- 
ducted by Drusus and Tiberius which had for their object 
the extension of Roman rule to the Elbe. They were suc- 
cessful, a Roman province was being created ; roads, bridges, 
canals were in course of construction and Roman troops were 
9 A.D. stationed there. Suddenly there was an uprising of the 
tribes, Varus, the Roman general, was defeated and his legions 
were destroyed. Augustus drew back within the Rhine, and 
solemnly warned his successors not to go farther. Further 
south the Danube took in some measure the place of the 
Rhine, and when the reign of Augustus closed there was a 
continuous chain of provinces along the Rhine and the Danube 
from the Black Sea to the German Ocean. 

With the frontier policy army reform was inseparably 
associated. In early times the Roman army was composed of 
Roman citizens, who went to the wars when the country was 
in danger and returned to their avocations when the fighting 
was done. But in later times Rome had conquered so much 


territory that generals raised armies as they best could, and 
kept their soldiers together for long periods of service. Many 
soldiers were provincials, having no special sympathy with 
Rome or its institutions. If they had a good general they 
were attached to him, and were ready to follow him anywhere. 
They were poorly paid, and their chief hope of fortune lay in 
the power of their general to obtain gratuities and gifts of 
land for them when the war was over. To obtain these they 
would as lief fight the Senate as the Gaul. Such armies were 
rather a peril than a protection to the State. 

During the civil wars which closed the republican period 
the soldiers had become numerous. There were fifty legions 
in all. Augustus reduced their number to twenty-five. The 
old militia idea was abandoned, and a permanent force was 
raised by voluntary enlistment. The emperor was com- 
mander-in-chief, no levies could be raised without his consent, 
and every recruit swore allegiance to him according to a form 
which Augustus himself drew up. He engaged the soldier, 
paid him, dismissed him, and rewarded him. The soldier 
served sixteen years in the army and four in the reserve. 
After twenty years he could claim his discharge and a reward 
for faithful service. 

Each legion was a standing corps with its own number 
and name. The legions formed the first line of defence, but 
behind them were the auxiliaries drawn from vassal States and 
frontier tribes. Each auxiliary regiment retained the name 
of the district where it was raised, so that it had a common 
bond, and in it the martial spirits found an outlet for their 
warlike energies. At the same time Augustus was careful to 
employ each regiment far from its native land, so that the 
soldiers became less provincial and thought of themselves as 
soldiers of the empire. 

Of the fighting force Italy and the peaceful provinces saw 
little. Twelve legions lay on the northern frontier, four were 
in Syria, four in Egypt and Africa, three in Spain, two in 


Dalmatia. In Rome itself there were a few picked regiments 
of guards, about 6,000 men in all. 

Augustus developed something corresponding to a civil 
service in the empire. - In former times the provinces had 
been granted out to favourites, who resided in them for a time, 
and returned home in a few years, loaded with wealth, mostly- 
ill-gotten. Augustus changed this system. The governors 
were his officials, appointed by him, paid regular salaries by 
him, promoted by him, and dismissed by him. Moreover, from 
their decisions there was an appeal to him. Thus the proconsul 
was no longer an autocrat, but himself a subordinate officer. As 
the career might be a permanent one if the emperor so pleased, 
able men chose it and became experts in the art of govern- 

In Rome the same system was followed. Little by little 
all authority was vested in Augustus, and the various depart- 
ments of home administration were worked by officials, respon- 
sible to him for all that they did. The corn and water supply, 
the care of public buildings, the police, the fire-brigade, became 
services worked by commissioners appointed by and respon- 
sible to the emperor. 

It is greatly to Augustus' credit that he tried to encourage 
a healthy and vigorous municipal life throughout Italy, and 
sought to enlist the sympathies even of those who had not 
attained to the dignity of full citizenship. As time went on 
this class became less numerous, the rights of citizenship being 
more freely conferred. 

Augustus regulated the finances of the empire with great 
care. They had become sadly disorganised, and by reason of 
civil war, mismanagement and peculation the empire was 
exhausted. He had a statistical survey of the empire taken, 
and taxation was based upon a carefully prepared census. The 
imperial budget may be said to date from the time of Augustus. 
He published the accounts of the empire annually, and left 
behind him a complete statement of the financial condition of 
the empire. 


Augustus was a wise ruler. Yet, such are the limitations 
of human wisdom, during his reign Julius Caesar was deified 
and there were temples and priests of Augustus. The worship 
of the emperor was encouraged as a bond of political union, and 
willingness to worship him became the test of patriotism. 
Many a Christian met his death in later times because he 
refused thus to blaspheme. 

Augustus died at Nola at the age of seventy-five. He 14 A. D. 
had ruled as autocrat for forty-one years, but in such manner 
as to gain the affections of all, nobles as well as plebs, provin- 
cials as well as Italians. Some years before his death he had 
adopted his step-son Tiberius, and later Tiberius had been 
made to some extent joint-ruler with himself. 

The emperor had ordered that a brief record of his acts 
should be inscribed upon bronze tablets and deposited in the 
mausoleum at Rome. The tablets have perished, but a copy of 
the epitaph cut on marble was found at Angora (Ancyra) in 
Galatia, in a temple dedicated to Augustus. The copy is still 
extant and is headed as follows: " Rerum gestarum divi 
Augusti, quibus orbem terrarum imperio populi Rom. subjecit 
et impensarum quas in rempublicam populumque Romanum 
fecit, incisarum in duabus aheneis pi lis, quae sunt Romaj 
positas, exemplar subjectum ". 



The Romans were not a literary people. This may seem a 
strange thing to say considering the position occupied by the 
Latin language in the literary world. For many centuries 
Latin was the language of culture. For many more Latin has 
been freely used for literature, and books are still written in 
the Latin tongue. But this is a different matter. As the Ro- 
man Empire spread Latin spread with it, until it was known 
not only throughout Italy, but over much of Europe. The old 
languages lived and were used for colloquial purposes, but men 
who wished their writings to be widely read wrote in Latin. 
This became even more the case when the Roman Church 
began to gain in power. Not only were the services of the 
Church read in Latin, but by writing in Latin theologians of 
different countries could interchange ideas. And over much of 
Europe for a long time the higher education was confined to 

Latin gained its position more easily because of its intrinsic 
merits. It is an exact, business-like language. Its pronuncia- 
tion and syntax are alike precise. If it is inferior to Greek in 
grace and elasticity, it is superior in vigour and force. Greek 
is a better language for philosophy, but Latin has a sonorous 
effectiveness all its own. Hence it has lived and will live. 

Notwithstanding the merits of Latin it remains true that 
the Romans were not a literary people. In their early days, 
some would say in their best days, they had no literature 
worth talking about. For centuries they despised it and found 
little place for it in education. Their notion of education was 
very practical. If a boy could count, fight, plough the land, 



and liold his own in a bargain, what more did he want ? The 
Romans were in those days a practical and unimaginative race 
singularly unlike the Italian of to-day. At that time Roman 
literature consisted of historic annals, so bald and imperfect 
that they were of little use even to a historian, and of ballads 
and rude chants which have not lived. 

\ The conquest of Southern Italy first made a difference. Th^ 
cities there were of Greek origin, and the captives brought/ 
Greek ideas to Rome. Now the Greeks admired literature 
just as much as the Romans despised it. The palmy days of 
Greece were at an end, but her literary men and philosophers 
had left a store of intellectual food on which the Greeks feasted 
then and the world has feasted ever since. Philosophj^, poetry, 
the drama, in all the Greeks excelled. Now captives were 
often well-educated men. In those days conquerors brought 
the best of the people with them as slaves, the clever men and 
the artisans. The others they left to till the land and send 
them tribute. Hence many well-bred and highly educated 
men were in Rome as slaves, not unfrequently better men 
than their masters. 

Intelligent masters had the sense to use their slaves well. 
They gave them practical freedom, and allowed them to use 
their talents as they best could, perhaps receiving a percentage 
of their earnings. Thus it happened that the education of 
young Romans fell often into the hands of Greek slaves. It 
was not because the Romans thought any one good enough to 
be a schoolmaster, but because Greeks had been brought to 
Rome who knew much more about education than the Romans 
did and were qualified to teach them. These men taught the 
Greek language and used as their text-books the works of 
the Greek poets and dramatists just as the teachers in our 
English public schools and universities do to-day. 

From Greece also came the drama. In Italian towns there 
had been play-acting of a simple sort from early times. But it 
did not amount to much and in Rome it was not encouraged. 
The Romans were a dignified race and hated to be made fun 


of, and early acting was largely composed of rough fun and 
practical joking. The Greeks who were in Rome knew that 
stage plays could be made attractive, and tried to introduce 
them. At first the civic fathers were doubtful about it. An 
actor was to them pretty much what an actor was to our own 
forefathers, a mountebank, a man who lived on sufferance, and 
who might be thankful if he got away from the town without 
being put in the stocks. Nor was the play- writer much better 
in their opinion. 

Nevertheless acting slowly won its way. To avoid giving 
offence the actors laid their scenes in Greek cities, and when 
they made fun they pretended that it was Greeks they were 
making fun of. Hence when the civic fathers came to censure 
they sometimes remained to laugh. 

It was a long time before wholly Roman plays were acted 
with freedom. In fact, the time scarcely did come. The in- 
fluence which Greek obtained in those early days was never 
wholly shaken oft'. The early Roman writers were largely 
translators and adapters from the Greek. Sometimes we have 
Latin thought in Greek form, and sometimes Greek thought in 
Latin form, but generally Greek somewhere. This was especi- 
ally true of dramatists and poets. Virgil, the greatest of 
Roman poets, owed much to Homer, and Lucretius, Horace and 
Ovid owed much to Greece. The prose writers managed to 
emancipate themselves. Cicero, Julius Csesar, Livy and 
Tacitus had styles of their own. But when Cicero began to 
write philosophy Greek influence became at once apparent, 

In the space at our disposal we can only attempt to give 
brief biographical sketches of the leading Roman writers in the 
order in which they were born. Adequate quotation is impos- 
sible, else it would be interesting to watch the progress of 
poetry from the Saturnian jingle into which Andronicus trans- 
lated the Odyssey, illustrated by the nursery rhyme, 

The King was in his counting-house, counting out his money ; 
The Queen was in her parlour, eating bread and honey, 


up to the majestic hexameters of Virgil. It would be interest- 
ing also to remember that Virgil at his best was only where 
Homer had been a thousand years before, and that Roman 
poetry having reached that climax quickly began to decay. 

Livius Andronicus is spoken of as the first Roman 290 B.C. 
dramatist. He was not a Roman, but a Greek, captured at 
Tarentum, and brought to Rome as a slave. He was freed by 
Livius, his master, and took his name. 

The earliest stage-plays {ludi scenici) had been introduced 
from Etruria about 364 B.C., but the first drama with a regular 
plot was translated from the Greek by Andronicus, and per- 
formed at Rome 240 B.C. 

Fragments of the plays of Andronicus exist, and the fact 
that his writings were still being used as school-books in the 
reign of Augustus shows that the Romans considered them of 

Cn. N^vius was the first Roman poet of repute, appar- 264. 
ently a most talented man. He was born in Campania, and 
served in the First Punic War. He at first translated dramas 
from the Greek, and continued to translate Greek comedies, but 
he endeavoured to clothe his tragedies in Roman garb. 

Naevius tried to introduce references to current events into 
his comedies, and criticised public affairs and men, in the 
fashion popular at Athens. But this did not answer at Rome, 
and Naevius was thrown into prison. He made his peace and 
was set free, but only to err again, and to be imprisoned again. 
At last he was exiled. 

During his exile Nsevius wrote an epic poem on the First 
Punic War. It was written in Saturnian metre and opened 
with the story of iEneas' flight from Troy. Only fragments 
remain, but the poem was utilised by two great men, Ennius 
and Virgil. Nsevius' style was easy and free, and he had his 
admirers even in the Augustan age. One of his lines is still 


Laetus sum laudari me abste, pater, a laudato viro. 

Nsevius died at Utica. 


254. T. Maccius Plautus was the next writer in point ot' time, 

and the first whose works have come down to us on a large 
scale. He was an Umbrian by birth, and began life as a stage 
assistant. Then he took to acting, and then to playwriting. 
He was very successful in the last capacity, and continued to 
produce plays for forty years. Twenty of his comedies are 
extant, and they were still being performed in the time of 

Like his predecessors, Plautus borrowed largely from the 
Greek. He made little claim to original authorship, but trans- 
lated and edited, cleverly adapting his plays to Roman life and 
introducing Roman customs and jokes into his scenes. Warned 
perhaps by the fate of Naevius, he laid the scenes of his plays 
in Greek cities, and his characters were always Greek. 

Plautus was a rough writer who wrote for bread, and 
sought only to amuse, but he was clever, and many writers, 
both ancient and modern, have been indebted to him. 
Amongst these may be mentioned Moliere, Dryden and Shake- 
speare. The Comedy of Errors is founded on a play by Plautus 
called the Mencechmi. 

250. Q. Fabius Pictor was perhaps the most ancient writer of 

Roman history in prose. He served in the Gallic War, and in 
the Second Punic War. His history, which was written in 
Greek, began with the arrival of /Eneas in Italy, and brought 
Rome down to his own time. 

239. Q. Ennius was a Calabrian by birth. He came to Rome 

from Sardinia in the train of M. Porcius Cato, who induced 
him to settle there. He made his living by teaching, and had 
a high reputation as a man of learning. He gave lessons in 
Greek and Latin, and endeavoured to bring the finest examples 
of Greek culture before his students, whilst also infusing into 
his work something of the practical Roman spirit. 

Ennius' most important work was an epic poem called the 
Annals. The poem was modelled on Homer, and described 
the growth and glory of Rome. It was in eighteen books, 


was half as long again as Paradise Lost, and must have been 
the labour of many years. The early part is legendary, the 
latter part deals with the Punic War and matters of which he 
had knowledge. From a historical point of view the Annals 
were not of much consequence, but from a literary point of 
view their importance was great. The metres previously used 
by poets had allowed much licence in quantities. But Ennius 
wrote in Homeric hexameters, and as these required a rigid 
observance of quantities, his writings, of which portions have 
been preserved, have had an important effect in fixing the 
laws of Latin pronunciation. 

Ennius has the credit of having originated the satire. At 
that time the word had not its present meaning. The word 
Satura denoted a medley, and was applied to a rude kind of 
miscellaneous acting without any regular plot. Ennius applied 
it to his miscellaneous writings, short poems on different sub- 
jects and in different metres. 

Ennius was a good man as well as a great genius. He 
was esteemed by his contemporaries. Scipio Africanus was 
an intimate friend, and when Ennius died he was buried in 
the sepulchre of the Scipios, and his bust was placed among 
the effigies of their family. 

Cicero calls Ennius "Summus poeta noster," and Virgil 
copied him at times. 

M. PORCIUS Cato, the well-known censor, is the first Latin 234. 
prose author of whom we have much knowledge. He was 
born at Tusculum, and became famous as soldier, orator and 
author. He was a patriot of the narrowest school, loving no 
country but his own. 

Cato's vigorous style and biting wit gave him great force 
as a speaker, and his speeches were published. In the time 
of Cicero 150 of them were extant, and Cicero praises them 
highly. Quotations which have been preserved show that 
Cato had abundant vigour and some administrative talent of 
the domineering order. 

VOL II. 2 


Cato's whole literary activity belonged to the period of his 
old age. At that time his national prejudices had somewhat 
diminished; and he even went so far as to study Greek, which 
in his earlier years he had despised. 

The books written by Cato were, as might be expected, 
of a practical order. A treatise on agriculture remains to us, 
modernised by the copyists, but sufficiently near the original 
to show his style. 

Cato also wrote a book called Origines, of which only 
fragments have been preserved. It dealt with Roman and 
Italian antiquities in the early chapters, giving such account 
as could be given of the early history of Rome and the Italian 
tribes. The book derived its title from its early chapters, but 
it went on to describe later history, bringing it down to the 
very year of his death. 

Latin historical composition in the proper sense began with 
Cato, the Origines being the oldest historical work written in 
Latin, and the first important prose work in Roman literature. 

220, M. Pacuvius, the nephew of Ennius, was born at Brindisi 

just before the Second Punic War. He lived to be an old man, 
and witnessed during his life the stirring events which ended 
with the destruction of Carthage. 

Pacuvius was considered by many ancient writers one of 
the greatest of the Latin tragic poets. His tragedies were 
mostly based upon the Greek writers, but he treated his sub- 
jects with much originality. Some of his tragedies were 
taken from Roman story, such as the one entitled Paulus. 

Pacuvius' verses were popular in the time of Julius Caesar, 
and though only fragments remain, we can see that he was a 
man of lofty thought and high ideal. He was distinguished 
as a painter as well as a poet. 

Q. CiECiLius Statius was a native of Milan, and a writer 
of comedy. The date of his birth is uncertain, but he was the 
immediate predecessor of Terence. Some critics have placed 
him with Plautus and Terence in the first rank of comic poets, 


but he was probably inferior to both. The titles of forty of his 
dramas are known, but only fragments have been preserved. 

P. Terentius Afer (Terence) was born at Carthage and i96. 
brought in his early youth as a slave to Rome. His master, a 
Roman senator, impressed by his talents, educated and freed 
him. Thus by his master's kindness he was brought early 
into contact with education and refinement, and acquired the 
elegant manner which characterises his work. 

The Andria, Terence's first play, was acted 166 B.C., and 
at once made him famous. Like other writers he borrowed 
largely from the Greek, nor did he attempt to clothe Athenian 
comedy in Roman garb as i\\&y had done. He wrote in the 
Latin language, but as an Athenian, and refrained from Roman 
customs and local references, 

Terence's plays may not be intrinsically more moral than 
the rest, but he avoided coarseness, and though this injured 
his popularity with the plebs, it made his plays agreeable to 
persons of taste. 

Terence died at the early age of thirty-six years. Six 
comedies remain to us, perhaps all that he produced. His 
style is polished, and his plays are marked by a purity of 
idiom which has received from critics the highest praise. It 
has even been said that, although a foreigner and a freedman, 
Terence divided with Cicero and Caesar the palm of pure 

L. Accius was a prolific writer of tragedy and history. Of 170. 
his tragedies mere fragments remain, but these bear evidence 
of unusual power and of a moral impressiveness not always 
present in the Roman drama. 

Accius also wrote Annals in verse, containing a history 
of Rome and a history of poetry. These writings are not 

The works of Accius are spoken of with admiration by 
ancient writers. He lived to a great age, and Cicero, when a 
young man, frequently conversed with him. 


168. G. LuciLius of Aurunca was a fluent and popular writer 

of satirical poetry. Ennius has the credit of having invented 
the Satura or medley, but Lucilius moulded it into shape. His 
satires were in thirty books. Of these 800 fragments have 
been preserved. Though the fragments are of the briefest 
they show undoubted power. 

The style of Lucilius was vigorous and pungent, sometimes 
coarse enough and unsparingly frank, but abounding in caustic 
pleasantry and clever criticism of life. He had none of the 
polish of Terence, and Horace declared that if the order of his 
words was altered no one could tell that he was not reading 
prose. Nevertheless his writings lived, and were popular even 
in the Augustan age. 



M. Terentius Varro was a laborious student, a man of wide lie B.C. 
learning and a voluminous author. Unfortunately, he took to 
politics, and fought against Julius Caesar. After Pharsalia, 
Csesar forgave him, and employed him in connection with a 
scheme he had on foot for establishing a great public library in 

When Csesar was murdered Varro went into seclusion, and 
gave himself wholly to literary work. His name was on the 
list of those proscribed by the triumvirs, but he escaped and 
remained for some time in concealment. Afterwards Octavius 
protected him, and he lived to a good old age, spending his life 
at his favourite studies. 

Varro composed a mass of literature, of which, unfortun- 
ately, little has been preserved. His poetry was of the satiri- 
cal order, his prose writings dealt with a variety of subjects. 

Varro's great work was the Antiquities. The work was 
divided into two sections, Things Human, and Things Divine. 
Only fragments have come down to us, but many quotations 
from the latter section are to be found in the works of the early 
Christian fathers. Augustine drew largely from this source in 
his City of God. 

Varro wrote an important treatise on agriculture when he 
was eighty years of age. Of this treatise three books are 
extant. There are also extant six books, a portion of a treatise 
on the Latin language. The book contains much curious 
information, but testifies " to the infantine state of philological 
science at the time ". 

There is a refreshing element of common sense in Varro's 



writing. He advises girls to keep at their needlework and not 
put off the child's dress too early ; and he advises that boys 
should not be taken to gladiatorial games, where the heart is 
hardened and cruelty quickly learned. 

106. M. TuLLius Cicero was born at Arpinum in Southern 

Latium, and was educated at Rome. His father was in easy 
circumstances, and Marcus received instruction from the best 
teachers in the capital. He was an insatiable student, plung- 
ing " into every kind of study ". 

During the Social War Cicero served in two campaigns, but 
he had little fancy for soldiering. He would have been a 
better man had he kept out of politics altogether. But this 
would not have been in accordance with the spirit of the age. 
When we forget the man and remember only the writer, Cicero 
must receive the highest praise. He is in a class by himself. 
In his prose works the Latin language is seen in its perfection. 
Of modern classical Latin prose he may fitly be called the creator. 

At the age of twenty-six Cicero was already a successful 
pleader in the law courts. Either his health broke down or 
he dreaded the enmity of Sulla, so he left Rome, and spent 
two years in travel. During these years he visited Athens 
and Rhodes, and took the opportunity of extending his know- 
ledge of philosophy and rhetoric. He returned from his tour 
strengthened and matured, and was soon recognised as the 
foremost of Roman orators. From this time he was constantly 
engaged in the law courts and assemblies. Of the speeches 
which he delivered, fifty-seven have come down to us. They 
were carefully edited before publication in all probability, and 
some never were delivered at all, but they bear every sign of 
first-class oratorical ability. 

Sometimes Cicero was counsel for the prosecution, and 
several speeches demonstrate his power of invective. But, 
generally, he was retained for the defence, and when two or 
three counsel were engaged he spoke last, as being the one 
most likely to leave a favourable impression on the jury. 


Cicero's political speeches were mostly delivered in the 
Senate amongst men of his own class. But he could also ad- 
dress popular audiences with power. The Roman law courts 
were not infrequently held in the open air, and interesting 
trials drew large crowds. 

The letters of Cicero are not less interesting than his 
speeches. There are about eight hundred of these, and they 
have high importance as a chronicle of the history of the time. 
They are the more valuable as manj^ of them, perhaps the 
greater number, were written without thought of pubHcation. 
Naturally they vary in character. Some are formal, some 
frank, some are intended to conceal by ambiguous language 
the real views of the writer. Some are written with care, 
some have been dashed off hurriedly. On the whole, Cicero's 
letters do not lead us to admire his character as a statesman or 
even as a citizen. But with this we are not at present con- 
cerned. The subject has already been dealt with in our history. 
As a writer, Cicero's style is excellent, and his letters form a 
valuable commentary upon the closing years of the republic. 

When Cicero's political popularity waned he devoted him- 
self more entirely to literature, and produced many important 

De Oratore is a treatise on public speaking thrown into the 
form of a discussion between famous orators. The attainments 
needed by an orator, the most effective arguments that an orator 
can employ, the value of delivery and action in oratory are all 
dealt with. In this treatise Cicero appears at his best. He 
was dealing with a subject which he understood, and his char- 
acters carry on the discussion with grace and dignity. 

Cicero also wrote on philosophy. The subject was not 
congenial, but he produced a treatise, De Repuhlica. The 
treatise was lost, but in 1822 portions of it were discovered 
in a Vatican palimpsest. In his philosophical writings Cicero 
borrowed largely from the Greek. His philosophy when 
original is superficial. 

De Legibus deals with the origin and nature of law, and has 


suggestions for a mode] code. The treatise is sketchy and 
incomplete, but gives valuable information. The task was 
interrupted by his departure from Rome as governor of Cilicia, 
and it was not resumed. 

When Cicero returned to Rome the Civil War interfered 
with his literary labours, but in 47 B.C. he once more settled 
down to his work. In the Brutus, written 46 B.C., he sketches 
the history of eloquence at Rome, and in a subsequent treatise 
gives his views of what an orator ought to be. Cicero's rhe- 
torical works are valuable ; the prose is finished and artistic ; 
the subject is handled by one who understood it well. 

Cicero's only daughter, Tullia, died in 45 B.C. She was 
greatly beloved, and the influence of her death appears in his 
later works. Consolatio was the first of these, and it was 
followed by Hortensius, a work in which St. Augustine 
found much inspiration. These were followed by philosophical 
treatises of a more speculative character. Of these De Finibus 
Bonorum et Malorum is the most important. It deals with 
the supreme good, the end towards which man should direct 
his actions and thoughts. In this book the philosophy of the 
Stoics, Epicureans and Peripatetics is discussed. 

Some of Cicero's writings were religious in character. Of 
such was De Natura Deoruon. In this book also the theories 
of the philosophical sects are criticised. De Divinatione, a 
work on revelation, followed, and De Fato, a treatise of which 
only a fragment remains. 

Cicero also wrote De Senectute, to show how old age may 
be most comfortably borne, and De Amicitia, on friendship. 
His last work was De Offi-ciis, a book written for the benefit 
of his son Marcus, then studying philosophy at Athens, It 
forms a systematic manual of moral duty. 

In the year 43 B.C. Cicero was proscribed by the triumvirs, 
Antony, Lepidus and Octavius, He fled, but was chased, and 
rather than allow his servants to risk their lives by fighting 
for him he offered his neck to the executioner. He had then 
only reached his sixty-fourth year, and but for this brutal deed 


might have done much good work in the world in the evening 
of life. 

Cicero lived in trying times and tried to play too many 
parts. Had he kept more strictly to his proper role it would 
have been better for him and better for the great audience 
which his writings still reach. But as an author Cicero must 
have high praise. Under circumstances at times the most 
depressing he produced a great amount of literary work, not 
always original, but for tlie most part elevating in tone, and 
clear and rich in style. His writings marked an epoch in the 
Latin composition of his own time, and have been valuable 
instruments for twenty centuries in the hands of those who 
have aimed at the highest culture of the intelligence. 

C. Julius Caesar, the greatest hero of Roman history, was loo. 
a contemporary of Cicero and only a few years his junior. 
With his political life we have dealt in our former volume ; 
here we have only to speak of his literary powers. 

Caesar was an orator of merit, his speeches were praised by 
Cicero, and some were extant centuries after his death, though 
none have come down to our own time. He is said to have 
had a brilliant, high-bred style. 

Caesar was the author of several works besides those with 
which his name is generally associated, but only traces of them 
remain. His literary merits are known to us chiefly through 
his Commentaries, namely, on the Gallic and on the Civil 

The commentaries on the Gallic Wars were written with 
a purpose. Caesar had added huge districts to the Roman 
Empire, and in so doing had gathered together a powerful 
army devoted to his interests. In his CorriTnentaries he 
shows how all this was forced upon him by circumstances be- 
yond his control. Regarding the reasonableness of his views 
opinions may difter. Naturally Caesar puts everything in the 
best light for himself, but the tone is so bright and candid 
thE^t we do not seem to be reading the narrative of a partisan, 


Caesar was not a historian in the ordinary sense. There 
was in his writing no sign of careful research, or balancing of 
opinion, or even of strict adherence to truth. He had, as we 
have said, a purpose to serve. His aim was autobiographical 
rather than historical. But he tells his story with such fresh- 
ness and vigour that he has left in his autobiography a 
valuable record of political events. As a writer of Latin 
prose he stands second only to Cicero. 

100. L. Afranius was a popular writer of comedies in the time 

of Caesar. His comedies described Roman scenes and manners 
in humble life, and some of them are far from refined. They 
may, however, be none the less accurate. 

Afranius was a man of good family and an orator, so that 
he wrote as an amateur. We have the names and fragments 
of more than twenty of his comedies. 

Comedies describing Roman scenes were called comvedioe 
togatcfi, those describing Greek scenes were comcedice 
palliatce, those which, like the comedies of Afranius, de- 
scribed humble life were called coTnosdice tahernarice. 

99. T. Lucretius Carus was the didactic poet of Rome. He 

has even been spoken of as the greatest of Roman poets, but 
this place belongs to Virgil. Lucretius had a peculiar genius, 
a power of discussing abstruse matter in majestic verse, and of 
dealing with subjects usually considered dry and forbidding 
in a charming style. His work combines purity of style with 
depth of reasoning in a way unapproached by any other Latin 

Lucretius was a Roman of good family and fortune, who 
despised the mundane ambitions of his time and gave himself 
to literature and philosophy. He has been called " the aristo- 
crat with a mission ' '. The study of the Greek philosophers 
and poets was the absorbing passion of his life. But he was 
no copyist : both as philosopher and poet he was an original 

The work which has immortalised the name of Lucretius 


is entitled De Rerum Natura. It is a philosophical work 
written in hexameters, explaining the most abstruse specula- 
tions in majestic verse, and with occasional digressions of 
singular beauty. The poem expounds the leading principles 
of Epicurean philosophy, which was itself based upon the yet 
earlier philosophy of Democritus. 

This school of philosophers taught what we would now 
speak of as the survival of the fittest. The world was a 
concourse of atoms which had come together by chance and 
would eventually separate and continue their race through void. 
Much scientific teaching of the present day is on the same 
lines, and Lucretius in his writings anticipates new discoveries, 
both in chemistry and physics, in a remarkable way. 

Unfortunately the psychology of Lucretius is also material- 
istic. The soul and mind consist of atoms, and the soul is not 
immortal. The atoms of the soul are scattered at death, after 
which there can be no sensation, therefore men have nothing to 
fear. The victims of passion and vice have their hell in this life. 

In the Lucretiau system the place of the gods was taken 
by Nature, an omnipotent and omnipresent force, governing 
the universe by fixed laws. Lucretius discusses many other 
subjects in his poem. He is often wrong, but he is sometimes 
right, and he is always great. And the student rises from a 
comparison of these old-world theories with the theories of the 
advanced scientific men of our own day with the conviction 
deepened that " there is no new thing under the sun ". 

In his own day the writings of Lucretius did not meet 
with much appreciation. Nor is it to be wondered at. He 
vehemently attacked the superstitions of his time, but he had 
nothing to give in their place, for the materialism which he 
preached could not satisfy the heart of man. Virgil, however, 
afterwards did homage to his genius, with true poetic feeling 
declaring his own inferiority. 

Lucretius died at the early age of forty-four and left his 
poem unfinished, so that it was given to the world in its com- 
pleted form by some other hand. 


86. C. Sallustius Crispus (Sallust) was born in the Sabine 

hills and was a historian of merit. He quarrelled with Cicero 
and was expelled from the Senate. In the Civil War he was 
fortunate enough to take the side of Caesar. He was rewarded 
with the government of Numidia, and returned to Rome from 
his province a wealthy man. 

Sallust was the first Roman historian to emancipate himself 
from the habit of writing history in chronicle form. He tried 
instead to imitate the style of such writers as Thucydides. He 
was, however, too intense a partisan to be reliable, and he has 
the habit of putting speeches of his own composition into the 
mouths of his heroes. The two works which have come down 
to us, accounts of the Catiline conspiracy and the Jugurthan 
War, are really political pamphlets. 

Nevertheless, the style of Sallust's writings was original, 
and they are valuable from a literary point of view. Sallust 
avoided the stately smoothness of Ciceronian Latin : his style 
is abrupt, almost jerky. We may perhaps say that whilst 
Cicero gave us Latin in its beauty, Sallust gives it in a terse 
and concentrated form. 

84. C. Valerius Catullus was born at Verona in Cisalpine 

Gaul. He was a talented poet, belonging to a new Roman 
school of poets, which modelled itself upon the Greek fashion- 
able poetry. 

The poems of Catullus are of the lyric and elegiac order, 
and in various styles and metres. Amongst them are many 
love poems, some coarse, but all clever. In some of his pieces 
Catullus rivals Horace. The Atys is one of the most remark- 
able of his poems. It is full of poetic fire and has a rhythm 
used also by Lord Tennyson in " Boadicea ". 

Catullus died at an early age, else he would have reached 
the first rank of Roman poets. 



With Augustus the republic ended and the empire began. 
The establishment of the empire not only marked an era in 
political life, but also an era in literature. With an autocrat 
upon the throne, benevolent indeed, but determined to order 
all things according to his will, the free form of political life 
ceased, and much literary freedom ceased with it. The 
government could not be attacked, not even criticised, it must 
only be praised. Pamphleteering was now dangerous and 
oratory lost much of its force. To harangue a public audience 
was little short of treason, nor was there much scope for 
oratory in a Senate which only met to register the emperor's 

Historical writing becomes less easy under a despotism. 
The history of the past can be freely recorded up to a certain 
point, the point when the despot or his ancestors begin to take 
a personal interest in it. After that the historian must walk 
warily, even with regard to the history of past reigns. As for 
the history of his own day, that if touched at all can only be 
touched in the interests of the reigning monarch. 

In the Roman Empire the change that had come over the 
literary world was not at once felt. The best men of Augus- 
tus' reign had lived under the republic, some of them had even 
served against him. Moreover, Augustus was a peculiarly able 
and broad-minded man. He made one terrible mistake in 
connecting himself with the proscription and hounding Cicero 
to death, but he soon gathered sense. Realising the power of 
literature in the world he encouraged literary men, and took 

them under his patronage. Msacenas, his chief minister, 



though an indifferent writer was an excellent critic, and sur- 
rounded himself with the choicest literary spirits of his day. 
Literature, therefore, flourished, but only on certain lines. 
The literary man who becomes a courtier has to pay as the 
price the loss of his independence. Augustus and Maecenas 
were gracious to literary men, but it was understood that they 
must keep their hands off public affairs, or if they spoke of 
the emperor, must speak in flattering tones and with bated 

For a time things went well enough. The Augustan age 
was undoubtedly extremely brilliant. It was something to 
have men like Virgil, and Horace, and Livy, and Ovid, almost 
contemporaneous. Augustus himself was fond of books. He 
founded libraries, and dabbled in prose and verse. It was in- 
deed part of his policy to create a literature, to bring clever 
men forward, and to use them in his service. So long, in fact, 
as the despot was a literary man, though the nature of the 
writing might change, yet there would be plenty of it. But 
when Augustus passed away, and the despot was only a 
despot, things became very different. This was what really 
happened. During the reign of Tiberius there was a lull, then 
some literary activity for a time, but it soon became clear that 
the golden age had passed. Men were afraid to write freely, 
there was little to inspire them in any case, and genius shrank 
within itself. 

70 B.C. P. Vergilius Maro (Virgil) was the greatest of Roman 

poets. He was born at Andes, near Mantua, and was care- 
fully educated. Too delicate to be a soldier, and too shy to 
be an advocate, he devoted himself to study. His parents 
were humble though independent, and they educated him as 
well as could be done. He was for some years at school at 
Cremona, and then went to Rome to study philosophy, rhe- 
toric, and the like. In the rhetoric class Octavius, after- 
wards emperor, was a fellow student, 

Virgil owed his early recognition as a poet to that which 


seemed at the time a great misfortune. His father's farm was 41. 
confiscated by the officers of Augustus, and awarded to one 
of the emperor's veterans. The confiscation was unjust, and 
Virgil had the courage, using what little influence he had, to 
apply for restitution. The Governor of Cisalpine Gaul took 
an interest in the case, and used influence with Maecenas, 
Augustus' chief minister, through whom Virgil recovered the 
property. His first Eclogue was written to express gratitude 
to Caesar for his kindness. Unfortunately a year or two later 
the injustice was repeated, and Virgil's life was in danger. He 
again appealed, and this time he did not recover the ancestral 
farm, but another was given to him in its stead. 

The Eclogues or Bucolics were Virgil's earliest work. 
They are written in a simple, natural way, and are excellent 
examples of polished versification. 

The Georgics, an agricultural poem in four books, are de- 
dicated to Maecenas, who had taken Virgil under his patronage. 
Perhaps the subject was suggested by him. They deal with 
the various duties of a farmer, agriculture, planting of trees, 
care of live stock, treatment of bees, and the like. The 
Georgics were published in complete form about 30 B.C. 

After publishing the Georgics the greater part of Virgil's 
life was occupied in writing the ^neid. This epic poem con- 
structed on Homeric lines, begins with the supposed wanderings 
of iEneas after the fall of Troy, and skilfully throws upon the 
screen lovely and majestic word pictures of Rome's ancient 
glory. In the poem, legend, history and philosophy are skil- 
fully interwoven. In the sixth book, the hero visits the abode 
of the dead, sees the place of torment of the wicked, and the 
plains of Paradise. From this book sprang Dante's great 
works, the Inferno and the Paradiso. He made Virgil his 
model, and owned him master. 

Virgil died about the age of fifty, leaving his great poem 
unfinished and unrevised. So impressed was he with its im- 
perfections that he left instructions in his will that the poem 
should be destroyed. Fortunately, Augustus heard of it, and 


ordered that this should not be done, but that the poem should 
be published as he had left it. 

Critics have not been slow to accuse Virgil of lack of 
originality, and undoubtedly he drank deeply at the well of 
Homer, just as Dante drank deeply at the well of Virgil. Per- 
haps even Homer drank deeply at some other well, for recent 
explorations make it clear that Homer himself did not stand at 
the threshold of Greek civilisation. Originality is hard to find. 
Few men have been able to do more than improve slightly upon 
work done by their predecessors. Even so with Virgil. A 
delicate, retiring man of culture, he gathered up much that was 
rich and beautiful, and handed it down to posterity in a new 
and more perfect form. His poem stands after the Iliad and 
Odyssey, the third great epic poem of antiquity. 

Virgil's poetic genius was recognised early, and his works 
were used as school-books in Rome for centuries after his 
death. He was a pure-minded and elevated writer, and he 
used the Latin language with consummate skill. With Cicero 
in prose, with Virgil in poetry, we have Latin at its best. 

65. Q. HoRATius Flaccus (Horace), was Virgil's personal 

friend, and has been, in his own way, almost equally famous. 
Like Virgil, he came of humble parentage, and owed almost 
everything to the care bestowed upon his education by his 
parents. His father had been a slave, but was freed before his 
son's birth, and became a tax-collector. He educated his son 
Horace at Rome and Athens. 

With other young men living in Athens at the time he 
joined the army of Brutus, and was beaten with the rest at 
Philippi. After the battle he sued for pardon, and was per- 
mitted to return to Rome. There he lived in a humble way 
for a time, but his poetry attracting attention, he became 
acquainted with Virgil, who introduced him to Maecenas. 
Maecenas treated him with kindness, and presented him with 
a small estate on the Sabine hills, not far from Tibur. On this 
property Horace lived in comfort, taking great delight in it. 


The Satires were the earliest pubHsheJ writings of Horace. 
The word in those days signified a mixture or medley. Some 
of the words were satirical in the modern sense, but many 
were not. The Satires show much keenness of observation and 
facility of expression. 

The Odes came next in order of time, and are Horace's 
greatest monument. Sometimes they are written in lighter 
strain, sometimes with serious purpose. Everywhere there is 
beauty of form and language, and the master's touch. Nettle- 
ship has said : " In lyric poetry Horace represents, as Virgil does 
in epic, the highest ideas which the national life of the Roman 
Empire was capable of inspiring ". 

The Epistles came last. In these Roman society is de- 
picted by the man of the world with genial criticism, prac- 
tical philosophy and exquisite grace. Some have said that in 
this particular form of composition, Horace has never been 

Like Virgil, Horace was fortunate in obtaining early appre- 
ciation. His writings were soon widely known and widely 
studied. Mtecenas and Augustus treated him kindly, and, 
though he retained an independent spirit, he remained on good 
terms with his patrons. Munro, the well-known critic, in com- 
paring Virgil with Horace, beautifully says, that whilst Virgil 
was imitated by many subsequent writers of epic poetry, " the 
moulds in which Horace cast his lyrical and his satirical 
thoughts were broken at his death ". 

Titus Livius (Livy) was born at Padua, and was for a 59. 
time a teacher of rhetoric in his native city. He came to 
Rome when about twenty-eight years of age, studied rhetoric, 
and wrote philosophy. He made the acquaintance of Augustus, 
and being an able man, holding no extreme views, he kept on 
good terms with men of all parties. 

Soon after the foundation of the empire Livy began his 
great work, The History of Rome. The work was designed 
on an ambitious scale. It was to have contained 150 books, 
VOL. II. 3 


and to have narrated the history of the city from its foundation 
to his own time. Livy died before the work was completed, 
but he had brought his subject down to the death of Drusus, 
9 B.C. In all he had written 142 books, of which, unfortu- 
nately, only thirty-five have been preserved, Books I.-X. and 
XXI. -XLV. There are extant, however, short epitomes of 
most of the lost books. 

Livy was far from reliable as a historian. Not that he 
was dishonest, but his methods were unsatisfactory. His 
chronology was often inaccurate, his geography at fault. He 
had been educated in a very broad sense, he had little know- 
ledge of law, political economy, political science, or philosophy. 
His reflections are rarely profound. He merely aimed at pro- 
ducing a readable narrative, but this he did to perfection. 
His style is extremely good. His prose has been spoken of 
even by great critics as unrivalled, and though this praise is 
too high, there can be no question concerning its merits. 

Livy's writing flows on in a calm, strong current, and even 
when he is transparently inaccurate he is effective. He did 
not mean to be inaccurate. He was a fair, liberal-minded 
man in many ways. But he was ultra-patriotic ; he could see 
little else in the world but Rome. Moreover, it was ancient 
Rome that chiefly attracted him ; the Rome of his own day he 
counted sadly degenerate. Perhaps he was not far wrong. 
He accepted the change which the empire had brought as a 
necessity, but he loved it not. 

Judging Livy as a historian he had many faults, but as a 
literary man he takes high rank. In the writing of pure Latin 
prose Cicero and Caesar were his only rivals. 

54. Albius Tibullus was an elegiac poet some of whose 

writings remain extant. He seems to have been an amiable, 
unselfish man, and his poems are delicate and refined. Many 
of his songs were inspired by the tender passion : his first 
elegies are addressed to Delia, later songs to others. Horace 
was warmly attached to him, and does homage to the purity 


of style which characterised his poetry. Quintilian, a cele- 
brated Roman rhetorician and critic, speaks of hiui as the most 
polished and elegant of Roman elegiac poets. 

Sextus Propertius, a poet of Umbria, and a man of con- 49. 
siderable learning, also wrote passionate love songs. His first 
elegies are addressed to Cynthia, for whom he had a fervent 
attachment. The attachment was unhappy enough, but, under 
its influence, Propertius wrote his best poetry. He, also, was 
one of the circle of literary men who surrounded Msecenas. 

Propertius had weak health, and partly for this reason, 
partly because the connection with Cynthia was broken off, he 
latterly wrote but little. Probably he died young, 

PuBLius OviDius Naso (Ovid) was born in central Italy, 43. 
and came to Rome at an early age. His father desired that 
he should be an advocate and have an official career, so he had 
him trained in rhetoric and law. Ovid even entered the pro- 
fession and held some minor appointments. But he was de- 
voted to versification, and soon laid his profession aside for the 
sake of poetry. 

Of the great Augustan poets Ovid is the only one whose 
career entirely belongs to that age. He was born the year 
after Julius Cassar was murdered, and died thi'ee years after 
the death of Augustus. 

Ovid's poetry, until he was about forty years of age, was 
chiefly on amatory subjects. It was often extremely immoral, 
but it suited the tone of society, and Ovid was quickly in- 
stalled as the fashionable poet. His genius cannot be ques- 
tioned, but much of his work was frivolous, and some of it was 
unscrupulously demoralising. 

During the last ten years of his life Ovid wrote books of a 
worthier character. Among these the Metamorphoses gave, 
in fifteen books, legends and fables describing transformations 
from the creation down to Julius Ccesar, who was transformed 
into a star. Ovid also wrote a poem called the Fasti, a 
poetical handling of the Roman calendar, describing the events 


which each day commemorated. It might have been more 
interesting had there been any serious purpose inspiring it. 
As it is its chief interest Hes in the fact that it throws light 
upon certain out-of-tlie-way rites and customs. 

When Ovid was fifty-two years of age he was banished by 
Augustus to To mi, a town of Thrace, near the mouth of the 
Danube on the very borders of the empire. The reason of 
this drastic banishment is disputed, but doubtless it was well 
deserved. Probably Ovid had been guilty of some greater 
indiscretion than usual. Augustus was making an effort to 
improve the morals of Roman society and Ovid was doing his 
best to corrupt them. 

The citizens of Tomi received Ovid with more kindness 
than he deserved, but it was a sore change from the gay life of 
the capital to this wretched and joyless town for a man like 
Ovid. He wrote many elegies bemoaning his fate and plead- 
ing for permission to return, but Augustus would neither 
recall him nor permit him to change his place of exile. 

In 14 A.D. Augustus died and was succeeded by Tiberius. 
Three years later Ovid also died at Tomi, the last great poet of 
the Augustan era. 

We shall return to our sketch of Roman literature in a 
subsequent chapter. 



Augustus had been first married to Clodia. His second wife 
was Scribonia, who bore him his daugliter Julia. He divorced 
Scribonia and married a third wife, Livia, the wife of Tiberius 
Claudius Nero, a Roman noble. Livia had borne two sons to 
her former husband, Tiberius and Drusus, who thus became 
stepsons of Augustus. Drusus died in his prime. He was 
father of Germanicus and Claudius, the latter of whom became 
an emperor late in life. 

Augustus having no son of his own made many plans for 
the succession, but outlived most whom he had chosen. First 
he chose Marcellus, son of his sister Octavia, but he died at the 
age of nineteen. Then he favoured his stepsons, Tiberius and 
Drusus. Afterwards he preferred Lucius and Gains Ctesar, 
the sons of Julia by her second husband Agrippa. When 
they died, Drusus being also dead, he had no one in the royal 
house whose claims could compete with those of Tiberius. 
Accordingly Tiberius was adopted as his son, and invested 
with the imperium and tribuuician power. Afterwards he was 
authorised to take the census and to administer the provinces 
along with Augustus. It was, therefore, a matter of course 
that he should succeed him, ami he did so with universal 

It is never easy to succeed a popular man. Augustus u a.d. 
became emperor whilst still a youth ; he was a hero, he had 
many popular gifts. When Tiberius became emperor he was 
fifty-five years of age, and his life had been far from a happy 
one. Augustus had used him freely and treated him badly. 
Whilst still young he had compelled him to divorce his wife, 




Vispania Agrippina, to whom he was devoted, and to many 
his daughter Julia, the widow of Agrippa. There was no 
happiness in the union, for, apart from other things, Julia was 
a worthless woman. 

Though Augustus had thus spoiled the life of his stepson 
he showed him little favour and would have robbed him of the 
succession in the end had there been any other who could have 
been pushed forward. Little wonder if Tiberius became soured 
and cynical. 

The historians of the period were bitterly hostile to Tiberius, 
and dealt unfairly with his memory. They exaggerated his 
faults, misinterpreted his motives, and retailed silly and ma- 
licious rumours about his actions. 

He was a hypocrite, they say, because he affected reluctance 
in assuming the imperial power. But all we know of the after 
life of Tiberius strengthens the impression that this reluctance 
was not feigned. Had the imperial power come ten or twenty 
years earlier it might well have gratified him. But he was 
now past his prime ; he had been acting with Augustus for 
years ; he knew the difficulties and dangers surrounding the 
imperial position, and the thanklessness of the task ; he knew 
that he lacked the gifts that made Augustus popular ; he dis- 
liked the senators and he despised the plebs ; why then should 
he increase his responsibilities and make his life one long- 
misery ? 

When Tiberius went to live at Capri the historians could 
only suppose that he did it for the sake of indulging in licen- 
tiousness unchecked. The bare mention of the matter is 
sufllcient to show its absurdity. Why should a man leave the 
most wicked city in the world and go to live in a small island 
with a few villa residences for the sake of debauchery ? Surely 
there was enough opportunity for that in Rome. Tiberius left 
Rome because he was weary of the city, weary of the intrigues 
of the place, weary of his unhappy domestic life. He longed 
for peace ; he found it in Capri and he never returned to 
Rome. His absence from Rome increased his unpopularity. 


The capital of an empire does not love an absentee monarch, 
and the hand of Sejaniis, whom he made governor, was heavy 
upon the senators. But Rome had to learn how little, after all, 
residence within her walls had to do with the government of 
the empire. The provinces were Tiberius' chief concern. He 
had to think not only of one huge disreputable city, but of a 
great part of Europe, Asia and Africa. In the restfulness of 
Capri Tiberius could receive his couriers from the distant 
provinces and issue his instructions to his governors in the 
ends of the earth just as easily as he could have done amidst 
the distracting and evil influences of Rome. Nor is there any 
reason to believe that this first duty was neglected. The em- 
pire was well governed by Tiberius. But Rome missed the 
glitter and the show. 

The death of Augustus was made the opportunity for 
mutiny amongst the troops on the Danube and on the Rhine. 
The soldiers complained of their poor pay and long term of 
service. The mutiny on the Danube was quelled by Drusus, 
the son of Tiberius, with the aid of an opportune lunar 

The mutiny on the Rhine was more serious. Germanicus, 
the nephew of Tiberius, son of his favourite brother Drusus, 
and his own adopted son, was general on the Rhine. He was 
exceedingly popular, and the soldiers offered to make him 
emperor if he would lead them to Rome. Germanicus resisted 
firmly ; he was loyal to liis uncle, and at last the soldiers lis- 
tened to his remonstrances. 

In connection with the mutiny on the Rhine we first hear 
of Caligula (Bootikin), who was destined to succeed Tiberias. 
His name was Gains and he was the youngest son of Ger- 
manicus. He was at that time in the camp with his mother 
Agrippina and was a great pet amongst the soldiers, who gave 
him his nickname, probably from the way that he strutted 
about the camp in his Uttle military boots. The sight of 
Agrippina, pretending to carry Bootikin away from the camp 
to a place of safety, moved the hearts of the rough men and 


brought them to their senses. Their nickname has never been 

During the next three years Germanicus was constantly at 
war with the Germans. He crossed the Rhine, devastated 
their lands and fought several campaigns. The German leader 
was Arminius (Hermann). This hero had done his country 
much service. It was he who, during the reign of Augustus, 
defeated Varus and destroyed his legions. Germanicus was 
more careful than Varus had been, and did not meet with so 
grave a disaster, though at times his troops were in great 
danger. The Germans were often defeated, but the Romans 
lost heavily and could obtain no permanent grip of the country. 
At last, perceiving that the results bore no proportion to the 
17. expenditure of blood and treasure involved, Tiberius recalled 
Germanicus and determined, as Augustus had done before him, 
to accept the Rhine as the boundary of the empire. 

Arminius died at the early age of thirty-seven. He is 
rightly held in high esteem by his countrymen and regarded 
as a great national hero, the deliverer of Germany. 

Germanicus was now sent to the East to settle disputes 
with the Armenians and Parthians. About the same time 
Cn. Calpurnius Piso, a somewhat overbearing aristocrat, 
was made Governor of Syria. Germanicus succeeded with 
his mission, but fell out with Piso, and relations became so 
strained that Piso left his province. Just then Germanicus 
fell ill and died. On his deathbed he declared his belief that 
he had been poisoned by Piso's instigation. It is most im- 
probable, nevertheless such was the popularity of Germanicus 
at Rome that when Piso returned he had to stand his trial 
before the Senate. He had few friends, for the emperor, who 
did not believe the story of tlie poisoning, was yet angry 
with Piso for having exceeded his duty as governor in various 
ways. Whilst the trial was in progress he was found dead 
with his throat cut and his sword beside him. Of course 
there were many to declare that an evil conscience had led 
him to make away with himself ; others said that he had been 


killed by order of Tiberius, who was also responsible for the 
..death of Germanicus. Unfortunately, the death of an accused 
person was no unusual event at Rome. It solved many diffi- 
culties. However it may have happened, it may be looked 
upon as certain that Tiberius had nothing to do with either 

Though the reign of Tiberius was exempt from serious 
wars, there were uprisings in Africa, Gaul, and Thrace. In 
Southern Italy there were slave revolts. At Rome the steady 
increase in the slave population, the decrease in the free-born 
population, and the degradation of such freemen as remained 
were becoming a cause of alarm to thoughtful men. 

In a former chapter we have seen how carefully Augustus 
preserved republican forms even when the substance had 
passed away. Though all real power had been taken from the 
people, Augustus let them play at electing magistrates and 
passing laws. Under Tiberius this pretence of authority was 
taken away. Legislation was now carried out by Senatus 
Consulta and by Imperial Rescript. With neither had tlie 
plebs anything to do. The election of magistrates was also 
taken out of their hands. The emperor nominated the candi- 
date, the Senate approved, the people had tlie barren right to 

In thus even apparently worsening the legal status of 
the plebs Tiberius risked popularity. But the circumstances 
amply justified his action. The Roman populace had been 
ruined by conquest and the slavery that follows it. The 
nobles had their money and tlieir pride and lived apart. 
Rome was crowded with slaves wlio not only performed all the 
manual labour, but were the tradesmen and sliopkeepers of 
the city. Slave labour and free labour cannot exist side by 
side, and the humbler freemen had degenerated into loafers, 
living upon the taxes. Augustus fed the rabble, amused them 
with games, and let them believe that he was consulting them 
about the government. Tiberias continued to feed them. 
From this for the moment there seemed to be no escape. But 


he did not trouble to amuse them, and he no longer pretended 
to consult them about the government. 

Tiberius established a permanent prefecture of the city of 
Rome, maintaining the dignity of the office by restricting it 
to senators of consular rank. He appointed Sejanus as prse- 
torian prefect, a dashing cavalry officer for whom he had a 
great fancy. Tiberius, acting probably under the advice of 
Sejanus, also caused a permanent camp to be built for the 
guards outside the walls. It was in front of the Porta 
Viminalis, and the nine cohorts which had charge of the 
city were all stationed there. It was convenient to have the 
soldiers thus apart from the people, but it was dangerous. 
Living together their interests became concentrated, and they 
were more conscious of their power. The time would come 
when the praetorian guards would set up and pull down 

The emperor paid careful attention to finance. Augustus 
had spent money somewhat freely, especially in Rome. The 
games had been well supported, the temples had been restored, 
the city had been adorned with public buildings. It was said 
of Augustus that he found Rome brick and left it marble. 
Tiberius curtailed all these unproductive forms of expenditure. 
Thus he was able to lighten taxation, and even to remit it at 

33. At a time of serious financial crisis Tiberius came to the 

rescue and saved the national credit. When an earthquake 
in Asia laid famous cities in ruins, he sent princely gifts and 
remitted tribute for five years. When there was a disastrous 

36. fire on the Aventine and terrible suffering ensued, Tiberius 
gave three-quarters of a million for the relief of the sufferers. 
Yet such was his careful administration and the effect of 
peace upon the empire that he never found it necessary to 
raise taxation, and when he died he left the exchequer full. 
During the reign of Tiberius the law of treason was 
widened. In earlier times, treason was a name only applied to 
offences against the commonwealth, now it was made to include 


offences against the emperor. An insult to the emperor, 
whether in speech or writing, was an offence against the State. 
This is really the modern view of treason as held in Germany 
at the present time. It is logical, flowing naturally from the 
imperial system. But it is open, under certain circumstances, 
to great abuse, and it was greatly abused at Rome. 

Worse than the extension of the law of treason was the 
encouragement given to public informers, delatores as they 
were called. Augustus began the mischief by offering rewards 
to any who lodged information against violators of his mar- 
riage laws. It was not an easy matter to get information on 
the subject, and, as there was no public prosecutor at Rome, 
the delator seemed for the moment to be a public convenience. 
When Tiberius came to the throne he allowed public informers 
to be used yet more widely. But there is no more dangerous 
weapon than this, and when he saw to what it led he did his 
utmost to check it. This did not prove an easy task, especially 
after Tiberius went to live at Capri, and left the government 
of Rome largely in the hands of Sejanus. Sejanus used in- 
formers freely, and Tiberius' memory has the discredit for all 
that Sejanus did. The public informer, used in connection 
with a wide law of treason, can produce infinite mischief in a 

When Tiberius was sixty-seven years of age, he went on 26. 
tour in Campania. During the tour an accident happened to 
the party. They were dining in a grotto when some rocks 
fell. Some of the servants were crushed, and only the pre- 
sence of mind and devotion of Sejanus, who sprang forward and 
held a rock back by main strength, prevented the emperor 
from being seriously injured. Tiberius was grateful to Sejanus, 
and he became a greater favourite than ever. 

After the emperor's business in Campania was completed, 
he visited Capri. Struck by the peacefulness of the island and 
the contrast it afforded to the bustle and turmoil of Rome, he 
determined to remain there for a time. He enjoyed the island 
so much that he ordered villas to be built for the residence of 


himself and his officials, and a stay intended at first to be for 
days was prolonged to a stay of eleven years. 

Roman historians have not been ashamed to affirm gross 
and hateful reasons for this love of seclusion. Nothing could 
be more ungenerous and absurd. Tiberius was now an old 
man. He had seen much sorrow and felt many disappoint- 
ments. He detested Rome, and the peacefulness of Capri was 
refreshing in the extreme. Possibly it would have been better 
if he had withdrawn altogether from the aftairs of empire. 
But it is not easy for an autocrat to resign, unless perhaps he 
has a popular son willing to take his place. Tiberius had 
none. His only son Drusus had died three years before. For 
the moment no one was distinctly indicated as his successor. 
Under these circumstances, resignation was no easy matter. 
As he himself put it, he held a wolf by the ears ; it was 
dangerous to keep hold ; it was yet more dangerous to let 

Though living in Capri, Tiberius kept in close touch with 

imperial atfiyfe^ Whatever dissatisfaction there may have 
been at Rome, there was none in the provinces. Tiberius did 
not travel about as Augustus had done, but he paid close 
attention to the general welfare of the empire. Four pro- 
consuls were condemned for maladministration, and a much- 
needed regulation made governors responsible for the rapacity 
of their wives. Tiberius said " it was tlie part of a shepherd to 
shear not to flay his flock ". 

The government of the city of Rome was in the hands of 
Sejanus, the prefect of the guards. Sejanus would have made 
an able and brilliant governor had Tiberius been there to look 
after him, but he was not worthy of supreme power. He 
was ambitious and unscrupulous, and made bitter enemies. 
Tiberius loaded him with honours, and he undoubtedly ex- 
pected to succeed him. Perhaps at one time this was the 
emperor's intention, and had Sejanus walked more warily it 
might have been so. But when he perceived that Sejanus was 
presuming, his mind turned towards Caligula, the son of Ger- 


manicus, of whom wo have ah-eady spoken, and who had now 
developed from the child into the full-^rown man. 

Perceiving that his hopes of succession were baulked Seja- 
nus conspired. The conspiracy was discovered and Sejanus met 
with the fate of so many royal favourites. He was arrested 
and executed, and his death was followed by the execution 
of his family and friends. 

In the seventy-eighth year of his age Tiberius, realising 37. 
that the end was drawing nigh, (juitted Capri and journeyed 
towards Rome. When travelling along the Appian Way, and 
already within seven miles of the city, alarmed at some evil 
omen, he turned back and retraced his steps as far as Misenum. 
There, in the villa of Lucullus, he died. 

Tibei'ius was an unpopular man. Perhaps he was a hard 
man. But he jvas a great man, well worthy to stand side by 
side with Julius and Augustus as one of the three founders of 
the Roman Empire. 

Although an opportunity will arise for dealing more fully 
with the rise of Christianity, it would be unseemly to forget 
that it was during the reigns of Augustus and Tiberius that 
the solemn events took place in Judaea which so wonderfully 
changed the history of mankind. 

It was during a census held by virtue of a decree from 
Augustus that Christ was born in Bethlehem. Pontius Pilate, 
under whom our Lord suffered crucifixion, had received his 
appointment from Sejanus. When the mob shouted : "If thou 
let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend," it was Tiberius 
of whom they were speaking. Serious complaints had already 
reached the emperor of Pilate's tyrannical conduct and he 
dreaded further complaint, the more as his patron, Sejanus, 
had himself been executed for treason. So, to escape the 
dreaded severity of Tiberius, and little dreaming of the 
vast and august tribunal by whom his decision would be 
revised, " Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they 


When Tiberius died the apostles had begun their labours, 
but the Gospel had not yet reached Rome. But it was ap- 
proaching, for just about the time that the emperor passed 
away Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, received his spiritual 



Rome had now enjoyed good government for three-quarters of 37. 
a century. Julius Ca3sar, the last president of the republic, 
was one of the great men of the ancient world. Augustus, his 
successor, the first of the emperors, was an extremely capable 
and popular man. Tiberius, who followed him, though un- 
popular, was also extremely capable. He was severe and even 
cruel, but his hand was heavy only upon the rich, and chiefly 
upon the Roman senators. The empire as a whole prospered 
exceedingly under its stern monarch. 

The condition of the empire at this time has been thus 
described by Philo of Alexandria : — 

" Who was not amazed and delighted at beholding Gains 
assume the government of the empire, tranquil and well- 
ordered as it was, fitted and compact in all its parts, north 
and south, east and west, Greek and barbarian, soldier and 
civilian, all combined together in the enjoyment of a common 
peace and prosperity ? It abounded everywhere in accumu- 
lated treasures of gold and silver, coin and plate ; it boasted a 
vast force, both of horse and foot, by land and by sea, and 
its resources flowed, as it were, from a perennial fountain. 
Nothing was to be seen throughout our cities but altars and 
sacrifices, priests clad in white and garlanded, the joyous 
ministers of the general mirth ; festivals and assemblies, musi- 
cal contests and horse-races, nocturnal revels, amusements, 
recreations, pleasures of every kind and addressed to every 
sense. The rich no longer lorded it over the poor, the strong 
upon the weak, masters upon servants, or creditors on their 

debtors ; the distinctions of classes were levelled by the occa- 



sion ; so that the Saturnian age of the poets might no longer 
be regarded as a fiction, so nearly was it revived in the life of 
that happy era " (Bury, Roman Empire, p. 219). 

The passage is well worth quoting, not only because it 
gives a bright description of the Roman Empire, but because 
it is as strong a testimony as could be given to the excellent 
government of Tiberius, all the stronger because it was prob- 
ably rather meant to be in laudation of his successor. But it 
is not at the beginning of a reign that the condition of an 
empire speaks in favour of a ruler, but at the end. 

Undoubtedly at this time the main body of the people were 
prosperous and well governed. The condition of the capital 
was far from satisfactory. But Italy and the provinces were 
at peace, the humble majority were allowed to spend their 
days in quiet, and they were better off under the emperors 
than they had been under the republic. 

Gains succeeded to Tiberius amidst general enthusiasm. 
He was but five and twenty, the great-grandson of Augustus, 
the son of Germanicus, a favourite both with soldiers and 
people. He succeeded a stern, gloomy, unpopular old man, 
during whose reign there had been repression and even terror. 
Every one welcomed the new monarch. There was feasting 
and rejoicing throughout the empire. 

Tiberius had been a careful financier and without adding 
to the taxes had so governed that he left Gains a full treasury, 
about twenty millions of accumulated savings, some part of 
which at least might be spent for the benefit of the people. 
Never had monarch a better chance. And for a time Gains 
did well. He banished informers, released prisoners, recalled 
exiles, modified the law of treason, remitted taxation, and 
declared his intention of restoring to the plebs the ancient 
rights of election of which they had been deprived. These 
measures were not all wise, but they made him popular, and 
when he also restored to the games their ancient splendour 
and scattered gifts broadcast he won for himself unbounded 


For about seven months Gaius paid strict attention to busi- 
ness, and everything seemed to promise a beneficent reign. 
Then all at once he broke down. He had given a birthday 
banquet, a magnificent entertainment. It was a turning-point 
in his career. From that moment he degenerated, neglected 
business, became the slave of his passions, and acted in such a 
way that it would be generous to believe that his mind was 

Probably Gaius was always a weakling. His early days 
were spent in camp with soldiers. The men made much of 
him, and perhaps taught him mischief. Afterwards he was 
for a time with Tiberius and had to repress himself. When 
Tiberius died and he became emperor the suddenness of the 
elevation sobered him and kept him straight. Then came the 
banquet and Gaius probably got drunk and fell once more 
under the power of evil. From that time he made no further 
effort to keep himself straight. He gave the reins to his lusts, 
and Rome was governed by a debauchee. 

In the degradation of the young emperor no influence was 
more malign than that of Herod Agrippa, the grandson of 
Herod the Great, and nephew of Herod Antipas. Agrippa 
was a shrewd worldling, dissipated and unprincipled. He 
gained great influence over Gaius, and filled his poor, empty 
mind with visions of Oriental splendour and voluptuousness. 
Nor was Agrippa's the only evil influence at court. For years 
Gaius had been devoted to Ennia, the wife of Macro, the prte 
torian prefect, and there were others with whom his relation- 
ship was even more dishonourable. 

The reign of Gaius was not entirely filled with folly. In 
the erection of public buildings he would fain have followed 
the example of Augustus. Tiberius had been careful, perhaps 
even parsimonious ; Gaius had large views. The palace of the 
Caesars was enlarged, temples were completed, and the theatre 
of Pompey, which had been partially burnt, was restored. One 
exceedingly useful work he began, but was unable to complete, 
the carrying of a fresh water supply to Rome by an aqueduct. 
VOL. II. 4 


He also constructed a viaduct between the Palatine and Capito- 
line hills. He is said even to have planned a canal across the 
Isthmus of Corinth, a work only completed in our own time. 

At times Gains either did utter mischief or wasted money 
shamefully. He smashed the statues of distinguished republi- 
cans which Augustus had erected, either in a drunken fit or 
because he was jealous of their fame. Perhaps, for the last 
reason, he ordered that the works of Virgil and Livy should be 
removed from the libraries. 
39. Gains built a bridge of boats three miles long across the 

gulf from Baiae to Puteoli, not as a permanent structure, but 
because some one had made the statement that he was just as 
likely to drive a chariot across the sea as to become emperor. 
That both might happen he built the bridge at great cost, 
covered it with planking and earth, and drove a triumphal 
chariot across it. 

Money was wasted upon fruitless expeditions. One of 
these was professedly against the Germans, the other was 
meant for the conquest of Britain. The German expedition 
achieved nothing, and the army intended to conquer Britain 
never went farther than the French coast. Absurd stories are 
told about these expeditions, but they may be exaggerated. 

Conduct like that which we have recorded brought financial 
trouble. The unbounded generosity of the first months of the 
reign and the reckless profusion of the after period soon told 
their tale. The millions left by Tiberius were swallowed up, 
and Gains began to be in want. The real nature of the man 
then came out. Ruined by his extravagances, but determined 
not to curtail his pleasures, he plundered his subjects both in 
Rome and in the provinces. The reforms, by the promise of 
which he had gained a fleeting popularity, now vanished away. 
The law of treason was revived and made wider than ever. 
Informers were again encouraged, and rich men were accused 
of offences merely in order that their substance might be seized. 
New taxes were imposed mercilessly both at Rome and in 
Italy. Taxes on imports, octroi taxes, income taxes and such 


like were freely imposed. Worse than all the cui'reiicy was 
debased. Thus did a four years' reign, be<^-un with an over- 
flowing treasury, end in bankruptcy. 

It seems like a jest to read that this worthless man was 
most punctilious with regard to the payment of divine honours 
to himself. His determination to receive adoration as a god 
led to serious conflict with the Jews both in Ju(la3a and in 

In Alexandria the Jews were ordered, not indeed by Gains 
himself, but by the prefect, to set up statues of the emperor in 
their synagogues. When they refused there were serious 
riots, and many were slain. The Jews sent an embassy to 40. 
Gaius to protest, and the Alexandrian citizens sent a counter 
embassy. On the arrival of the Jews in Italy, what was their 
horror to hear that the emperor had sent orders to Petronius, 
the governor of Judsea, to set up a huge statue of him in the 
Holy of Holies, in the temple at Jerusalem. This gave them 
little encouragement, but they went on and saw Gaius. He 
behaved like a lunatic, but did them no harm, looking upon 
them as men rather to be pitied than blamed. Fortunately 
his death prevented the awful scenes which would have fol- 
lowed any serious attempt to carry out his orders in Jerusalem. 

The condition of the Jews under Roman sway had changed 
for the worse. For a time their condition had not been un- 
happy. The Roman garrisons had protected them, the Roman 
governors and civil officers had been fair, the fiscal burdens 
had not been oppressive. When anything went very far 
wrong the Jews appealed to Rome, and did not always appeal 
in vain. 

Pontius Pilate had brought serious trouble to Judaea. 
Appointed governor in the reign of Tiberius by Sejanus, he 
neither understood the Jews nor cared to understand them. 
His insolence and cruelty maddened them, there had been 
serious insurrection and brutal massacre. In the striking- 
words of Scripture, " Their blood had been mingled with their 
sacrifices ". 


Pilate had also treated the Samaritans with cruelty, and 
they complained of his conduct to Vitellius, the governor of 
Egypt. Vitellius ordered Pilate to quit Judsea and proceed to 
Rome to submit himself to the judgment of the emperor. 
Accordingly, just four years after the crucifixion, Pilate went 
to Rome a disgraced man. He arrived to find Tiberius dead, 
and probably looked on the death of the stern monarch as a 
happy augury. But it was early days with Gains, and in his 
reforming zeal he condemned Pilate and banished him to Gaul. 
Pilate went to Gaul a broken man, and is believed to Imve put 
an end to his own life. 
41. Gains made many bitter enemies during his brief reign, 

and a conspiracy was formed against him. Praetorian officers 
were the leaders of the conspiracy, and they assassinated him 
as he was passing through a vaulted corridor in the vast 
palace which he had built for himself on the Palatine. His 
body was hastily buried in the gardens, but was afterwards 
exhumed and cremated. At the time of his death the un- 
happy emperor had only reached the age of thirty years. 



When a monarch dies there is usually some one else ready 41. 
to till his place, but when Gains was assassinated there had 
been no thought of a successor. Gains was himself too young 
to have left a son of suitable ago, and no one had been inflicated 
during his brief reign as likely to succeed. 

The senators met at once to consider the state of affairs. 
Few regretted the death of Gains, but concerning the future 
they were divided. Some wished to abolish the empire and 
return to the republic, others wished to continue the empire, 
but change the dynasty. The prjetorian guards solved the 
problem. Ransacking the palace for plunder, some of them 
found Claudius, the son of Drusus, brother of Germanicus and 
uncle of the dead monarch, hiding for fear of his life. To his 
amazement they did not slay him there and then, but greeted 
him as emperor, and carried him off to the camp. 

The guards had heard of the proposal in the Senate that 
the republic should be revived, and the suggestion did not suit 
them at all. Probably it would have meant their disband- 
ment had there been no other objection. They determined 
to have an emperor, and why not Claudius ? 

Claudius did not desire the honour. Ho was a shy man, 
and the death of his nephew had greatly alarmed him. When 
the soldiers saluted him imperator he thought it was in 
mockery, and when they hurried him to the camp the spec- 
tators thought that he was being hurried to execution. They 
never dreamt of making Claudius emperor. But the soldiers 
were in earnest. They wanted an emperor. The Senate had 
to yield, Claudius himself had to yield, and he was formally 

invested with the imperium. 



Tiberius Claudius Csesar was at this time fifty yesivs of 
age. He had physical disadvantages. He was deformed, he 
spoke indistinctly, he walked with shuffling gait. For these 
reasons he had been disliked by his mother, slighted by his 
relatives, and neglected by all. He had lived in the country 
for the most part, and become a nervous and diffident man. 

The contempt of the Roman court was better for the 
character of Claudius than its friendship would have been. 
He had scholarly tastes and became extremely well-educated. 
Weak and pedantic though he seemed, ho was far abler than 
many who despised him. 

It is sufficient answer to those who have spoken of Claudius 
as mentally weak to say that he wrote three large historical 
works, an Etruscan, a Carthaginian, and a Roman history. 
The Etruscan and Carthaginian histories were written in 
Greek. Other books he wrote, but these were the most im- 
portant. Claudius was a rough, undignified man. He has been 
likened to James I. of England, and like that monarch he was 
far from being a fool. He did not seek his position, but when 
it was thrust upon him he rose to the occasion, displayed con- 
siderable administrative talent, and did his best for the welfare 
of the State. Nor was he unsuccessful. His record is ex- 
ceedingly good : he left an indelible mark upon the history of 
the empire. 

Claudius had to begin his reign by undoing some of the 
mischief which Gains had done. Estates, unjustly confiscated, 
were restored to their owners. Political exiles were recalled, 
and persons lying under charge of treason were released. A 
senatorial conspiracy, inaugurated by men who were too 
proud to serve a man whom they had affected to despise, was 
crushed; and then Claudius settled down to the ordinary 
duties of administration. 

Claudius had the deepest reverence for Augustus, and tried 
to make him his pattern. Augustus had kept up cordial re- 
lations with the Senate. Claudius did the same. He restored 
to them the powers of which they had been deprived by 


Tiberius, and strengthened their roll by the admission of new 

In administering justice Claudius was perhaps more as- 
siduous than wise. It is not best that a sovereign should 
personally sit on the bench, but Claudius did so: hearing the 
cases that came before him hour after hour with infinite 
patience. Perhaps this gave him an insight into the law 
which he would not otherwise have obtained, and enabled him 
to carry out his reforms with greater assurance. 

Claudius' legal reforms were substantial. He greatly 
modified the law of treasons, suppressed informers, and checked 
the use of torture. He tried to restore the right of legislation 
to the plebs, and revived the ancient plebiscita. But he soon 
found, as others had found before him, that this was unwork- 
able, and all his important legislation had to be enacted by 
means of Senatuus consulta. 

Various important public works were carried out during 
the reign of Claudius. The two great aqueducts, which Gains 
must have the credit of commencing, were finished by Claudius. 
A new harbour was constructed at Ostia, which proved of the 
greatest utility ; and efforts were made on a considerable scale 
to cbain the Fucine Lake, though the works were not per- 
manently successful. 

During the reign of Claudius the conquest of Britain was 
seriously undertaken. The subjugation of the Britons, who 
lived in the ends of the earth, had been in the minds of many. 
Julius Cajsar had twice attempted the conquest; Augustus 
had twice prepared for it ; Tiberius had declared it necessary ; 
even Gains had set out on the expedition, though he got no 
further than Boulogne. Claudius determined that the work 
should be accomplished. Perhaps the reputed wealth of the 
island attracted him, more likely he was willing that his name 
should be associated with the adding of another province to 
the empire. 

Four legions were allotted to the expedition, and there 
were many auxiliaries. Aulus Plautius was chosen to com- 


mand, and he had many distinguished officers serving under 
him. Among these were two men who afterwards wore the 
purple, Galba and Vespasian. The forces all told numbered 
about 50,000 men. 

43. An enormous transport fleet gathered at Boulogne, and 
the men crossed safely and landed unopposed at three different 
places on the south coast. 

At that time the Trinobantes, whose capital, formerly, in 
the days of Caesar, at St. Albans, was now at Camalodunum 
(Colchester), had sway over South-Eastern Britain. They, 
under their leaders Caractacus and Togodumnus, took the 
field against the Romans. They fought bravely, but were 
steadily driven back, first across the Medway, then across the 

Having driven the enemy thus far, Plautius paused, re- 
ported to Claudius, and awaited his arrival. The emperor had 
determined to take part in the contest himself, and had given 
orders that the way should be prepared, but that the final 
blow should not be struck before his arrival. He now hurried 
from Rome, and found the troops encamped near Londinium 
(London). A great battle was fought there, the Trinobantes 
were routed, and Plautius, pressing his advantage, captured 
Colchester, their capital. Claudius remained in the island 
sixteen days, and then, leaving Plautius to finish the conquest 
he recrossed the Channel, wintered in Gaul, and returned to 
Rome in the spring. 

44, After the departure of Claudius. Plautius spent several 
years in Britain, pressing forward the conquest of the southern 
and western portion of the island. This went on steadily 
until the Romans had sway as far west as Bath and as far 
north as Colchester. The general then returned to Rome and 
was received with due honour. 

P. Ostorius Scapula succeeded Plautius. He was fiercely 
opposed by the Iceni in the north, and by other tribes under 
Caractacus in the west. The Iceni were defeated at some spot 
near Daventry in Northamptonshire, and were quiet for a time. 


Caractacus held out tenaciously on the borders of Wales 51. 
and even forced the Romans back. But having unwisely 
risked a pitched battle he was completely defeated. Soon 
afterwards he was betrayed to the Romans and carried to 
Rome. It is to Claudius' credit that he pardoned the British 
hero, though he detained him in honourable captivity until his 

When Claudius came to the throne a Jewish rebellion was 
imminent. Gains had, it will be remembered, ridden rough- 
shod over the religious prejudices of the Jews, and had ordered 
that his statue should be erected in the temple at Jerusalem, 
Claudius pacified the people by issuing edicts protecting their 
worship. He also restored the kingdom of Herod for a time. 
After Herod's death Judsea had been governed by a procura- 
tor, but Claudius gave Judaea, Samaria and other provinces to 
Herod's grandson, the Agrippa of whom mention has been 
already made. 

The man thus elevated was that Herod Agrippa I. who 
slew James the brother of John with the sword, and from 
whose hands Peter so narrowly escaped. He had been a 
great deal at Rome with Gains, and knew Claudius well. He 
was one of the few who had foresight enough to realise that the 
man whom people thought so little of might one day become 
emperor. Accordingly he had kept on friendly terms with him, 
and now reaped a rich reward. Agrippa loved popularity and 
found that he could become popular with the Jews by perse- 
cuting the Christians. His kingdom did not last long. When 
he had reigned about three years he died of a most painful 44. 
disease. His son, seventeen years of age, was deemed too 
young to succeed him, and Judaea was again put under a 
procurator. Four years later the youth was made king of the 
northern principalities, but not of Judaea. He reigned for 
fifty-one years as Herod Agrippa II. It was before him that 
the Apostle Paul made his celebrated defence. 

During the reign of Claudius the king's servants became of 
much greater importance than they had been in former reigns. 


For this reason historians have accused Claudius of exalting 
his favourites, an accusation which has been made in most 
countries during the transition period. In every expanding 
country a time comes when it is no longer possible for one 
man to transact all the business of the State and when he must 
either let things slide or delegate duties to men in whom he 
has confidence. When a country is blessed with constitutional 
government the people choose the ministers, but whilst it is 
only yet emerging from autocracy the autocrat must choose 
them. Naturally the men who are not chosen are discon- 
tented, and, as they are in a majority, sovereigns have been 
dethroned over and over again for this very thing. Yet it has 
been by the employment of so-called favourites that countries 
have slowly learned the enormous advantages of ministerial 

That Claudius should make Narcissus his secretary, Pallas 
his accountant, and Polybius Minister of Education, was an 
offence in Rome. The aristocrats who were passed over in 
favour of men of more humble rank, were full of wrath, as 
they have been in all countries and in all ages. But Claudius 
endeavoured to choose the men whom he deemed most capable 
of transacting the business of State. If some of the men 
whom he thus advanced abused their position and made large 
fortunes by their patronage Claudius was not to blame. That 
sort of thing had been common in Rome for many a day. 

Claudius was unfortunate in his domestic affairs. His first 
wife Plautia was divorced with sufficient reason. His second 
wife vElia Pactina was divorced without sufficient reason. He 
38. then married Messalina, a woman connected on her mother's 
side with the Csesars. All this was before he ascended the 

By Messalina Claudius had a son, Tiberius Claudius Ger- 
manicus, afterwards called Britannicus, in memory of the 
conquest of Britain. Messalina was not a good woman, but 
she had great influence over her husband. At last she went 
too far and was condemned to death. She had many enemies 


and we cannot really tell how far she was to blame. Even 
after her condemnation Claudius would have forgiven her, and 
sent for her, but her enemies had been too quick for him and 
declared that by his orders the execution was already past. 

After the death of Mcssalina, Claudius married Agrippina 
his niece, daughter of Germanicus, and sister of Gains, the 
former emperor. No precedent for marriage with a niece 
existed at Rome, and there was a strong prejudice against it, 
but a decree was passed by the Senate authorising marriage 
with the daughters of brothers. The decree, strangely enough, 
did not authorise marriage with the daughters of sisters, and 
this distinction remained. 

Agrippina had been already married to a Roman noble, 
Cn. Domitius Ahenobarbus, and had a son, Lucius Domitius 
Ahenobarbus, Her son was older than her stepson, Britan- 
nicus, and Agrippina determined that if she could accomplish 
it he and not Britaunicus should succeed Claudius on the throne. 
The first step was to secure her son's adoption by the emperor, 
and with some persuasion Claudius took him into the family 50. 
under the name of Nero Claudius Cfesar Drusus Germanicus. 
His position having been thus recognised th^ young man 
was rapidly advanced and pushed into various public offices. 
Britannicus was kept in the background. 

Whilst we say these things in deference to the views of 
historians of the period we must also in common fairness 
remember that Nero was born 37 A.D., whilst Britannicus was 
born 42 A.D. The latter was, therefore, at this time a mere 
child, whereas the former was just emerging into manhood. 
When we remember this the action of Agrippina loses any 
sinister significance. She did in this matter just what any 
mother possessed of common sense would do in the present 

At the age of sixteen Nero married Octavia, the daughter 53. 
of Claudius and Messalina, so that he was now son-in-law to 
the emperor. How things would have gone had Claudius 
lived a few years longer until Britannicus had reached man- 


hood we cannot say. Unfortunately for the world he died. 
54. It is said that Agrippina, foreseeing that if he lived he would 
appoint Britannicus as his successor, poisoned him. The idea 
is too far-fetched to be worthy of serious consideration. Roman 
history is largely made up of scandal, and abounds in accusa- 
tions concerning poisoning. It is far more likely that Claudius 
died a natural death. He was sixty-four years of age and his 
health had never been good. 

Considering the difficulties under which Claudius laboured 
he deserves the greatest credit. He may have been eccentric, 
pedantic, perhaps at times foolish. Most men have their faults. 
But he was an earnest worker and a persevering man. He 
had the ability of the Caesars and is worthy to stand on the 
same platform as his three great predecessors — Julius, Augustus 
and Tiberius. 



We are now approaching the reign of Nero, the first Roman 
emperor who drew the sword of the civil power against the 
Christians. That we may the better understand what this 
implied it is necessary that we should diverge from the politi- 
cal narrative for a moment and glance at the origin and rise of 

The existence of the universe presupposes the existence of 
a Creator. So far as the doctrine of evolution is true it in no 
way affects this belief. Evolution is merely one of the laws 
by means of which the Ci'eator operates. 

Amongst the created beings of whom we are cognisant man 
stands highest. He is endowed with freedom of action, and is 
capable of attaining to a high level of wisdom and knowledge. 

Though it is obviously the desire of the Creator that man 
should make his own choice between good and evil, and should 
unfettered work out his own destiny, it is improbable that 
He would leave him entirely without a revelation of his charac- 
ter and will. 

Such revelation would almost of necessity take a miraculous 
form. If we believe in the existence of a Creator miracles 
easily follow. If we doubt His existence we are confronted 
with the greatest miracle of all. 

A revelation from the Creator would probably be made 
through some man or some family of men. We believe that 
the Hebrew race was chosen for this purpose. When the whole 
world was plunged in polytheism and idolatry the Hebrews 
clung with the utmost tenacity to the knowledge of the one 
true God, a spiritual being, " dwelling not in temples made 



with hands, neither worshipped witli men's hands as though 
He needed anything ". 

To the keeping of this remarkable race we believe tliat 
God committed for a season the knowledge of his oracles and 
of his true character, and though they proved unworthy in 
many ways, yet they guarded this particular trust with jealous 

The Scriptures, of which the Hebrews were the custodians, 
foretold a time when God would send a fuller revelation 
through a Messiah in whom, not one race only, but all the 
families of the earth should be blessed. 

The Jews, as the Hebrews were called in later times, eagerly 
expected this Messiah. Their nation had suffered greatly, they 
had lost empire and independence, they were hated and 
despised, but they believed that their troubles would end when 
the Messiah came, and that he would raise their nation to 
a height of imperial splendour far surpassing that of any 
former time. 

In the reign of Augustus, in Bethlehem, a small town in 
Judtea, there was born one Jesus Christ. The circumstances 
of his birth need not be referred to here, further than to say, 
that they were supernatural, and that they accurately fulfilled 
various prophecies in the Scriptures believed to be Messianic. 

Up to the age of thirty Jesus Christ lived the simple life 
of a Galilean peasant. His reputed father was a carpenter, 
and could scarcely have given his children any but a rudimen- 
tary education. There were no great schools of philosophy in 
Galilee, visits to Jerusalem must have been rare, and a young 
Galilean carpenter would see few books except the Scriptures. 

At the age of thirty, Jesus Christ left his home, and 
began to preach and teach. He chose twelve men to accom- 
pany him, to hear what he said, witness what he did, and carry 
on the work after he had departed. They were plain men like 
himself, mostly fi.shermen, one was a tax gatherer. 

The teaching of the Galilean peasant was unique. There 
was no straining after popularity. Rather was it the reverse. 


The virtues which he extolled were those which men despise ; 
meekness, non-resistance, purity, mercy, self-abasement. As 
for wealth, fame, worldly success, and such like matters after 
which men mostly strive, he said they were of no account. 

Christ's teachino- was free from excitement, supei'stition, 
sophistry, or uncharitableness. He was not narrow-minded, 
his rules were suitable, not only for the Jewish race, but for 
all men and for all times. 

The manner of Christ's teaching was remarkable. He did 
not argue or explain. He uttered short sententious rules as 
one having perfect knowledge and full authority. He summed 
up all that it was necessary to remember, in order to lead a per- 
fect life in two simple but never to be forgotten precepts, " Thou 
shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart " ; " Thou shalt 
love thy neighbour as thyself ". 

Much of Christ's teaching, and many of the parables by 
which it was illustrated, have been preserved to us by his com- 
panions. Though twenty centuries have gone by, and the 
world may be presumed to have grown in wisdom and ex- 
perience, Christ's teaching has never been improved upon. It 
stands alone, perfect, unique. 

The teaching of Jesus Christ was accompanied by miracles, 
not performed in order to draw attention to himself, but done 
out of love and sympathy. Amongst the miracles were many 
which could not be hid. He restored sight to men who had 
been blind for years, even from birth ; he healed lepers ; thrice 
he raised the dead. 

Though the people and his disciples would gladly have 
made him a king, and he could easily have placed himself at 
the head of a popular movement, he resisted every suggestion 
of this nature, and kept himself free from political entangle- 
ment and worldly aftairs. 

He informed his disciples that he was the Messiah pro- 
mised by God in the Scriptures, and that he was Divine. 
He said that his mission was a spiritual one, that he was 
the appointed Saviour of mankind. His disciples accepted his 


statements, though they only feebly grasped his meaning, and 
hoped to the very last that he would restore a temporal king- 
dom to Israel. 

After three yeai's' ministry, Christ told his disciples that it 
was necessary for the fulfilment of his purposes that he should 
die the death of crucifixion, but he said that they must not be 
unduly grieved, for he would rise from the dead on the third 
day. He told them that as his mission upon earth would be 
accomplished he would not remain, but that after his bodily 
presence had been removed his Spirit would return and dwell 
with his followers for ever. 

Christ said that it would be their task as soon as his Spirit 
descended upon them to go about the world oftering salvation 
from the guilt and power of sin to all who would believe on 
his name. He warned them that in the fulfilment of this 
mission they would meet with hatred, opposition, imprison- 
ment, death, but that they were not to be daunted, for they 
would have an eternal reward, and would never lose the con- 
sciousness of his presence. 

Shortly after saying these things Christ was crucified, and 
the disciples, forgetting all his promises, and thinking they 
would never see their master again, were in the depths of 
sorrow. His enemies, however, remembered his saying about 
rising on the third day, and determined to make sure that 
there was no pretence of anything of that sort. Accordingly, 
they obtained custody of the body, into which a spear had 
been thrust, so that there might be no doubt that he was dead. 
They laid the body in a sepulchre, placed a great stone before 
the door, sealed it, and set an armed guard. 

Notwithstanding all their precautions, Jesus Christ rose 
from the dead on the third day. He was first seen by MsLvy, 
then by Peter, then by two disciples, then by the chief 
disciples together. After that he was seen frequently, on one 
occasion by 500 at one time. The disciples talked with him, 
ate and walked with him, and touched his person in order to 
remove all doubt. 


Christ then instructed his disciples to remain at Jerusalem 
until the promised Spirit should descend upon them, and at 
last, having been with them for forty days, he ascended to 
heaven, vanishmg from a mountain in the presence of three 
witnesses, Peter, James and John. 

In accordance with their master's command, the disciples 
waited, and ten days after the ascension, whilst they were 
gathered together and engaged in prayer, the promised Spirit 
descended. The result was remarkable. Though unlettered 
men they became filled with power, and preached with such 
confidence and success that thousands joined their ranks. On 
the first day they had 3,000, later they numbered 5,000, later 
still they were described as a multitude amongst whom were 
many priests. Though at first their converts were mostly 
drawn from the humbler classes, yet from the beginning they 
had amongst them persons of wealth and position, and as time 
went on they drew their converts from every rank. 

The disciples never varied in their testimony. They de- 
clared that Jesus Christ had risen from the dead, and had 
therefore proved himself to be God. The day on which they 
began to preach, and on which they made 3,000 converts in 
Jerusalem, where all these things had happened, was just fifty 
days after the crucifixion, at a time when the events were 
fresh in the minds of all, and when authoritative contradiction 
would have been easy. Yet all that the priests who had taken 
charge of the body could say was that the disciples had stolen 
it whilst the watchmen slept. 

Had there been any truth in this statement, the question 
would have at once arisen : What had become of the body 
so stolen ? Had the disciples' declaration concerning the re- 
surrection been fraudulent, the fraud could not have survived 
the production of Jesus Christ, alive or dead, even for one 
hour. But he was not produced, though his enemies had all 
the resources of the State at their command. 

As for the disciples themselves they must have been either 

deceivers or deceived. 

VOL. II. 5 


Were they deceivers ? The whole life history of the men 
shows them to have been noble-minded. They taught the 
purest and most refined doctrine known to man, and they 
taught it in the face of cruel persecution. Had their master 
been really dead as they at first believed that he was, they had 
nothing to gain by denying it. They could have returned to 
their avocations and said nothing more about the matter. 
Going on with the deception could bring no gain to them. It 
meant defying the ecclesiastical and civil power. It meant for 
many of them mockery, imprisonment, death. Dear though 
their master had been to them there was no need to carry 
things so far. The fact that he was dead was a proof that to 
that extent at least he had been mistaken, and there the 
matter might have ended. This surely would have been the 
attitude of reasonable men. But it was not their attitude. 
Men and women, old and young, rich and poor, they con- 
fidently affirmed that their Lord had risen. Words cannot 
describe the persecution which they endured. But it made no 
difference. They never faltered, and many of them sealed 
their testimony with their blood. 

Were they then deceived ? Could they have seen an 
apparition ? In such a case the delusion could have been set 
at rest in a moment by the production of their Lord's body. 
A ghost implies that there is a body somewhere. Where was 
Christ's ? At first they themselves thought that they saw a 
ghost. But he said, "Behold my hands and my feet, that it 
is I myself ; handle me and see : for a spirit hath not flesh 
and bones as ye see me have ". They did as he said. They 
touched him, ate with him, saw him often during the re- 
maining period spent by him upon earth, saw him ascend 
into heaven, and then, filled with rapture, went forth to de- 
clare their wonderful message to the world. All that their 
master had said about persecution turned out true. It was 
inexpressibly bitter. But they never quailed. They were 
mocked, imprisoned, scourged, tortured, torn to pieces by wild 


beasts and dogs, but they never varied in their story, they 
never denied their Lord. 

Yet immensely important though the fact of the resur- 
rection is, it does not entirely explain the rise of Christi- 
anity. The resurrection convinced eye-witnesses, and those 
who learned the facts from eye-witnesses. But had the resur- 
rection been all, Christianity might never have spread beyond 
that generation. As time advanced, the importance of even 
the resurrection would have faded. It needed more than this, 
therefore, to keep Christianity alive. There was more. Jesus 
Christ had made two promises. He promised that he would 
rise from the dead, he promised also that after his ascension 
to heaven he would send down a spiritual being who would 
dwell with his disciples for ever. 

The meaning of Christ's second promise was first under- 
stood on the day of Pentecost. It has been understood by 
every true believer since. All who sincerely accept Christ as 
Lord receive this token of his acceptance of them. Until the 
believer receives this token he has not reached firm ground. 
He may have been attracted by the beauty of Christianity, by 
the arguments in its favour, by the evident happiness of 
Christians. But taking up an amiable attitude towards 
Christianity does not make a man a Christian. For that there 
must be personal contact with a living Saviour. 

Neither historical truth nor sound argument could have 
kept Christianity alive. Christianity lives because Christ 
lives, and because he is present with every believer. Had 
Socrates said to his weeping disciples, " Do not mourn : I only 
appear to leave you : my bodily presence is being removed, 
but you will be able to recognise my indwelling presence every 
day, every hour, I shall be with you alway even to the end of 
the world," his words would have been in vain, for he was a 
man like themselves. 

Christ spake thus to his disciples, and though they could 
not at the time comprehend his meaning, a few days after 
his ascension they knew what he meant. True believers have 


known the meaning of his words ever since. Every time that 
a man steps over the line between the world and Christ, and 
loyally accepts the Galilean as Lord and Master the day of 
Pentecost is repeated in his experience. 

It is this continually repeated experience which has kept 
Christianity alive, and has led men from generation to genera- 
tion to proclaim it to the world. It is not possible to explain 
the experience to an unbeliever any more than it is possible to 
explain what sight means to one who has been born blind. 
But when a man has experienced this spiritual baptism, the 
truth of Christianity has ceased to be matter of opinion and 
has become matter of knowledge. 

The great writer on the decay and fall of the Roman em- 
pire, in endeavouring to explain why Christianity made such 
rapid progress, gives as one reason that " abandoned sinners " 
joined the Church "oppressed by the consciousness, and very 
often by the effects of their vices. As they emerged from sin 
and superstition to the glorious hope of immortality, they 
resolved to devote themselves to a life, not only of virtue, but 
of penitence. The desire of perfection became the ruling 
passion of their soul. . . . When the new converts had been 
enrolled in the number of the faithful and were admitted to the 
sacraments of the Church they found themselves restrained 
from relapsing into then' past disorders by another considera- 
tion of a less spiritual, but of a very innocent and respectable 
nature. Any particular society that has departed from the 
great body of the nation or the religion to which it belongs 
immediately becomes the object of universal as well as in- 
vidious observation. In proportion to the smallness of its 
numbers, the character of the society may be affected by the 
virtues and vices of the persons who compose it ; and every 
member is engaged to watch with the most vigilant attention 
over his own behaviour and over that of his brethren, since, 
as he must expect to incur a part of the common disgrace, he 
may hope to enjoy a share of the common reputation." 

That Christianity provides a way of escape from the guilt 


> and power of sin to the most abandoned wretch who sincerely 
repents and unfeignedly believes God's Holy Gospel is true, 
but that any society of Christians can, by their united efforts, 
lift the burden of sin from the conscience of the sinner is not 
true. And if they cannot do this, far less can they give him 
victory over the power of sin, or instil into his heart a sure 
hope of immortality. Only God himself can do these things, 
and they do not follow admission into the Church of Christ, 
they precede it. 

Men cannot receive any one, good or bad, into the Chui-ch 
of Christ. Admission can only be granted by Christ himself. 
All who truly accept him are baptised into his Spirit, and 
become members of his family. Believers thus baptised by 
the Spirit form the Church of Christ, the kingdom of God 
among men, not merely a professing but a spiritual Church, 
one with his household and family in heaven. All thus bap- 
tised with the Holy Spirit belong to this Church, those who 
are strangers to this baptism, no matter with what human 
organisation they may connect themselves, are outside the 
Church of Christ. 

In early times believers thus baptised, recognising one 
another as members of the same divine family, formed them- 
selves into societies for mutual edification and support. As 
time progressed the societies became more powerful, and kings 
for political purposes took them under their patronage. Then 
finding them convenient instruments of government they 
formed them into State organisations, and that which was 
intended by Christ to be purely a spiritual society became 
little more than a branch of the civil service. The important 
initial step of baptism by Christ's Spirit was lost sight of, and 
human rites and ceremonies took its place. 

Nevertheless in these human societies there have been 
always some who were also members of the divine society, and 
they have kept the vital truth alive and spread the knowledge 
of it throughout the world. 

• "Hemembering these things, we can now more clearly under- 


stand the position of the primitive Church. At that time the 
profession of Christianity brought no credit with it, and few 
mere professors without experimental knowledge of its truth 
cared to join the society. It was confined to true believers and 
their children. 

To men like Pliny and Marcus Aurelius the attitude of 
the members of this primitive Church was incomprehensible. 
Believing that religion could not possibly be more than a 
matter of opinion in any case, they thought that the way in 
which Christians adhered to their faith arose from pure obsti- 
nacy. How dared such humble folk put their opinions against 
the opinions of much wiser and greater men. 

But that which emperors and historians thought obstinacy 
was only the demonstration of that certainty which is the seal 
of the inheritance of the true believer. The primitive Church 
had few besides believers within its ranks. It was, therefore, 
mainly composed of men and women who knew that they were 
right, and knew it with a knowledge which the world could 
neither give nor take away. It was this certainty which made 
them eager to tell others the wonderful secret which they had 
learned, it was this certainty which fitted them to confront 
unflinchingly the baptism of blood with which the primitive 
Church was now about to be baptised. 



We have now to consider the career of an emperor who has 54. 
left a singularly dark stain upon history. He was a bad man 
and we are not concerned to defend him, yet historians have 
not always dealt fairly with his memory. 

Nero was the son of Agrippina and Cn. Domitius Ahe- 
nobarbus (Brazenbeard). Agrippina was the daughter of 
Germanicus and the sister of Caligula. Ahenobarbus was 
descended from Octavia, the sister of Augustus. Nero was, 
therefore, of royal blood on both sides of his house. 

We have seen in the last chapter how Claudius, after he 
had married Agrippina, adopted Nero. Before Claudius died 
the youth was already looked upon as his successor, and his 
acces-sion was acquiesced in by all. Claudius had left a son 
Britannicus, but he was a boy of twelve and Nero was over 
sixteen. Hereditary succession was not yet fully established 
at Rome, and from a constitutional point of view there was as 
much to be said for Nero as for Britannicus. He was older ; 
he had i^lled public positions ; he had been going out and in 
amongst the people ; he was handsome and popular ; he was 
the grandson of Germanicus. His accession was quite natural, 
and it is fair to him and to his mother, Agrippina, to begin 
his history by dismissing from our minds any thought that he 
reached the thi-one by crooked ways. 

For Nero himself, however, his early succession was a mis- 
fortune. He was a youth with artistic tastes, clever at art, 
poetry and music. Had he been born in a more humble rank 
of life and been permitted to develop his talents in a natural 
way he might have left a gracious memory. Had he been born 



with sovereign right in a State governed on modern constitu- 
tional lines he would have had a better chance. But he became 
autocrat of the Roman empire at seventeen, master of bound- 
less wealth, surrounded by licentious women and unprincipled 
men ready to encourage him in every form of evil. What 
wonder if a boy like Nero, handsome, uneducated in any true 
sense, having never seen a good example, or been taught to 
aim at a high ideal, should make shipwreck of his life. Em- 
peror at seventeen ; a drunkard from boyhood ; murderer of 
his brother at eighteen ; of his mother at twenty-two ; of his 
wife at twenty-five ; of the beautiful devil who instigated 
most of the other crimes at twenty-eight ; dead at thirty. 
Such was the sad record of this unhappy man, the last of the 

Before Nero came to the throne Seneca had been his tutor. 
He could scarcely have had a worse. Seneca was a clever man 
and left works which may still be read with pleasure and 
profit. But he was a most dangerous mixture of the philoso- 
pher and the man of tlie world. Professedly a Stoic, and 
therefore presumably superior to the ordinary ambitions of 
mankind, he yet amassed a fortune so huge that it could not 
have been honestly come by ; professedly a teacher of virtue 
he encouraged Nero in vice. 

For the first years of Nero's reign Seneca and Agrippina 
contended for the mastery. Agrippina loved her son, and had 
great influence over him for a time ; he spoke of her as the 
best of mothers. But he soon slipped away from her grasp. 
Agrippina has been accused of unworthily seeking after power 
because she clung to Nero as long as she could. Why a mother 
should be thus judged because she tried to control her boy of 
seventeen we fail to see. Is it not more likely to have been 
because she saw that the influence of Seneca and his other 
advisers was anything but good for the lad ? 

At first Agrippina acted as regent, and Nero, fond of 
pleasure, was glad to be relieved by her of the business of 
government. But Seneca, the philosopher, and Afranius 

NEEO 73 

Burrus, prefect of the praetorian guard, plotted her overthrow. 
Accordingly they employed a Greek woman named Acte to 
fascinate Nero, and counteract the influence of his mother. 
The devilish scheme succeeded only too well. Recrimination 
followed, and Agrippina unwisely reminded Nero that but for 
her efforts his adoptive brother Britannicus might have been 
emperor. Perhaps she even tln-eatened that tliis might yet be 
the case. As a result Nero was alarmed and Britannicus was 

After the murder of Britannicus, Agrippina perceived that 55. 
her influence with Nero was at an end. She retired from 
public life, and the unfortunate youth went rapidly downhill. 
Choosing his friends from the most profligate of the nobility, 
he haunted taverns, became a midnight brawler, and indulged 
in dissipation of every sort. 

That Nero, notwithstanding his dissipations, was a man of 58. 
genuine ability is made clear by a suggestion which he made 
with regard to taxation. No financial genius had yet arisen 
in Rome, and taxation was raised with much oppression and 
inequality throughout the empire. Tax-farming, monopolies, 
and the heavy customs tariff by which monopolies have to be 
supported made millionaires of a handful of the people, and 
crushed the rest. Strangely enough Nero saw how things 
might be improved. In the year 58 he actually proposed to 
do away with the Vectigalia, the customs duties, establish 
free trade, and depend upon direct taxation. Had his scheme 
been carried out and extended throughout the empire the 
result would have been incalculable. The whole history of 
Europe might have been changed. Half the miseries of the 
Middle Ages were the direct fruit of the inteixsc spirit of pro- 
tection which everywhere abounded. But Nero's scheme never 
got a trial. His advisers represented to him that it would ruin 
the State. They meant that it would ruin them, for men like 
Seneca were in Nero's reign making their millions by grind- 
ing the faces of the poor. 

When about twenty years of age Nero fell under the 


fascinating influence of another paramour, Poppaea Sabina, an 
extremely beautiful but most licentious woman. Poppaea had 
been divorced by her first husband, and was now married to 
Otho, one of Nero's boon companions. Otho, not too proud 
to rise by his wife's disgrace, accepted the government of 
Lusitania and departed, leaving the coast clear for the emperor. 
From that moment Poppsea did as she liked with Nero. 

The emperor was already married to Octavia, a daughter 
of the late emperor Claudius, and an excellent woman. She 
was only twenty years of age, but for several years had been 
living apart from Nero. Octavia and Agrippina maintained 
close friendship, and the two women were a standing reproach 
to Poppcea. She determined to remove them from her path. 

Very likely the disgraceful liaison with Poppasa had led to 
renewed recrimination between Agrippina and her son, at any 
rate, a charge of conspiring against Nero's life was trumped 
up against her, and she was murdered. Whether Seneca was 
privy to the assassination before the event we cannot say, 
probably not, but he made himself an accomplice after the 
event by helping Nero to compose the letter which he sent to 
the Senate justifying the deed. 

Nero had killed his half-brother and his mother, and was 
yet but two and twenty years of age. To drown care he 
drank more heavily and plunged more deeply into dissipation. 
Agrippina was out of the way, and Poppaea had absolute con- 
trol. But Octavia stood between her and the purple, and she 
determined that she also should be sacrificed. 

Seneca and Burrus had the grace to realise that matters 
were being carried too far, and to espouse the cause of the 
badly-used empress. Burrus died, and Poppaea proceeded to 
62. remove Seneca from her path. Various charges were laid 
against him, and, perceiving that his day was done, he retired 
from public life. 

Tigellinus was now praetorian prefect and Nero's chief 
adviser. He was the tool of Poppaea, and helped her in all 
that she did. Under their combined influence Nero divorced 

NERO 75 

Octavia on the ground of barrenness, and thereafter imme- 
diately married Poppaea. The people were exasperated, for 
Octavia was a Cresar and a favourite. Poppsea saw that there 
could be no safety for her whilst her rival lived, and arranged 
for her banishment and execution. When the poor creature 
was murdered she was only in her twentieth year. 

Soon after these events a terrible conflagration broke out 64. 
in Rome. The fire began in the quarter where oil and fuel 
were stored, among shops filled with inflammable material. 
The appliances for extinguishing fire were quite inadequate, 
the streets were narrow, the houses high, and mostly of wood. 
All the materials requisite for a disastrous fire were present 
in abundance, and a high wind blowing in the dangerous 
direction completed the catastrophe. The fire raged for a 
week, and was only conquered at last by tearing down many 
acres of buildings. More than half the city was destroyed. 

By this time Nero had lost any popularity he had, and the 
maddened populace did not hesitate to accuse him of having 
burned the city. Ancient historians, writing years after the 
event, whilst expressing doubt, have not hesitated to repeat 
the accusation ; and modern historians, believing that nothing 
too bad could be said of this emperor, have kept the accusation 
alive. Poets have made it picturesque, and every schoolboj^ 
knows that Nero fiddled whilst Rome burned. 

There is already so much to say to the discredit of this 
unhappy man that there is no need to exaggerate, and it is a 
relief to know that this particular accusation is absolutely 
groundless. It would be just as true to say that Charles II. 
was responsible for the tire of London. 

Apart from the absurdity of imagining that a king would 
deliberately impoverish himself by conniving at the destruction 
of his capital, it is absurd to think that such a conflagration 
could have been foreseen. Moreover, Nero was far away from 
Rome, at Antium, when the fire broke out, nor did he return 
until the third day, expecting news daily that the fire had been 
cfot under. When he reached Rome the flames were threaten- 


ing his own palace. Instead of fiddling the emperor did his 
very best to extinguish the fire,, driving about the city, en- 
couraging all who were fighting the flames. 

When the conflagration had ceased and thousands were 
homeless, Nero did all he could to relieve distress, placing the 
public buildings and imperial gardens at the disposal of the 
people, erecting temporary shelters, and distributing corn at a 
nominal price. Nero's action in connection with the fire is the 
one thing which should be placed to his credit, and it is a pity 
that so much credence should have been given to calumny. 

But though the accusation against the emperor was false, 
the idea that the fire was due to incendiarism had taken pos- 
session of the minds of the people and a scapegoat had to be 
provided. For some reason which has never been fully 
explained suspicion fell upon the Christians. The position of 
Christianity in Rome was at this time most interesting. It 
seems likely that the Apostle Paul came to Rome about 62 A.D. 
and his trial before Nero perhaps took place in 63 A.D., or in 
the beginning of 64 A.D. It resulted in a verdict of not proven, 
and the apostle was released. Probably he was travelling when 
the fire took place in 64. All is indefinite, and the meagreness 
of the information may easily be accounted for. The fire was 
followed by bitter persecution, and Christians would scarcely 
dare to commit their thoughts to writing at such a time. 

Our information concerning this beginning of systematic 
persecution of Christianity in the Roman Empire comes from 
the pens of Tacitus and other heathen writers. The passage in 
Tacitus in which he explains how Nero, in order to divert sus- 
picion from himself, allowed it to fall upon the Christians is as 
follows : — - 

" With this view he inflicted the most exquisite tortures on 
those men who, under the vulgar appellation of Christians, 
were already branded with deserved infamy. They derived 
their name and origin from Christ, who, in the reign of 
Tiberius, had suffered death, by the sentence of the procurator 
Pontius Pilate. 

NERO 77 

" For a time this dire superstition was checked ; but it again 
burst forth, and not only spread itself over Judaea, the first seat 
of this mischievous sect, but was even introduced into Rome, 
the common asylum which receives and protects whatever is 
impure, whatever is atrocious. The confessions of those who 
were seized, discovered a great multitude of their accomplices, 
and they were all convicted, not so much for the crime of set- 
ting tire to the city as for their hatred of human kind. They 
died in torments, and their torments were embittered by insult 
and derision. Some were nailed on crosses ; others sewn in the 
skins of wild beasts, and exposed to the fury of dogs ; others 
again, smeared over with combustible materials, were used as 
torches to illuminate the darkness of the night. 

" The gardens of Nero were destined for this melancholy 
spectacle, which was accompanied by a horse-race, and hon- 
oured with the presence of the emperor, who mingled with the 
populace in the dress and attitude of a charioteer. 

" The guilt of the Christians deserved, indeed, the most 
exemplary punishment, but the public abhorrence was changed 
into commiseration, from the opinion that those unhappy 
wretches were sacrificed, not so much to the public welfare, as 
to the cruelty of a jealous tyrant " {Annals, bk. xv., chap. xliv.). 

Tacitus was a child of six years when the persecution of 
the Christians took place. He began writing late in life, so 
that half a century lay between the events and his description. 
Concerning the main facts of the persecution there can un- 
fortunately be no doubt. They are abundantly vouched for 
by the statements of other writers. But in matters of opinion 
Tacitus can be freely criticised. He was certainly wrong in 
his estimate of the Christians, concerning whose real character 
and faith he could have been at no pains to inquire. He may 
have been equally far wrong in believing that Nero deliber- 
ately singled out the Christians as scapegoats to bear away 
suspicion from himself. It is very likely that the emperor 
had scarcely heard their name before. 

Perhaps in the course of police investigation suspicion was 


cast upon the new sect. They met in secret ; they worshipped 
one who had been executed as a criminal ; they refused to 
attend public assemblies where the emperor was worshipped ; 
they must be misanthropes, enemies of mankind. Strange 
stories were rife as to what they did in their assemblies ; they 
were suspected of being cannibals and worse. In China in the 
present day Christian missionaries have been suspected of 
doing horrible things, and even in civilised Europe Jews have 
been accused of mixing their jmssover cakes with the blood of 
babes. Need we wonder if the Roman populace, at that time 
as degraded as any populace could well be, easily believed the 
foulest lies concerning this new sect which was everywhere 
spoken against. 

Though we may doubt whether Nero had anything to do 
with the original charge against the Christians, he certainly 
took advantage of it and made no effort to clear them. If he 
did not find the scapecoat himself it suited him that a scape- 
coat should be found. Accordingly the most law-abiding, 
virtuous, tender-hearted people in the Roman Empire were 
cruelly persecuted and done to death. 

We have mentioned that the Apostle Paul was in Rome 
before the fire. He had to stand his trial on the appeal from 
the court of Festus, and the verdict was non liqitet (not 
proven). Afterwards Paul was set free and travelled, prob- 
ably visiting Spain amongst other places. After the fire he 
was again arrested, and on two charges it is believed. For 
being concerned in the conflagration, and for bringing confusion 
into the Roman Empire by the introduction of a new religion. 
The first charge was easily disproved, but Paul knew that the 
second would mean death. It was when he was remanded and 
waiting the trial upon this charge that he wrote the very 
pathetic Second Epistle to Timothy : — 

" I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my de- 
parture is at hand. 

" I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I 
have kept the faith." 

NERO 79 

" Do thy dilio^ence to come shortly unto mo : " 

" Do thy diligence to come before winter ". 

Alas, the trial came on sooner than the apostle expected, 
and long bei'ore winter he was with his Lord. As he had ex- 
pected the second charge proved fatal. Paul was condemned, 
and lest there might be a disturbance if he were executed 
within the city he was taken by soldiers outside Rome, and 
there beheaded. 

With regard to the Apostle Peter there is no certainty at 
all. He may have gone to Rome about the time that Paul 
died. The sad plight of the Christians would have attracted 
a man like Peter. Perhaps he was crucified on the Janiculum, 
as tradition asserts, in the very end of Nero's reign. 

After the fire Nero rebuilt Rome in a much more enduring 
fashion. Stone was used instead of timber, the streets were 
made broader and straighter, and every " insula " of houses 
was surrounded by an open colonnade. Arrangements were 
made for a better water supply. The expense was met by 
heavy taxation on Italy and the provinces. 

Nero also built a new palace, afterwards called the Golden 
House. The palace covered a vast area, having magnificent 
gardens, woods and lakes. Before its entrance there was 
erected a statue of the emperor 120 feet high. Temples were 
pillaged in order to find funds and to supply the palace with 
works of art. Rome had a large percentage of poor folk 
amongst its inhabitants and the building of the Golden House 
caused doubtless a good deal of discontent. 

During the reigns of Claudius and Nero there was much 
war between Rome and Parthia, the bone of contention being 
Armenia. Roman territory and administration extended to 
the frontiers of Armenia, and it seemed necessary to maintain 
the Roman ascendency in that land. At the commencement of 
Nero's reign the matter had reached an acute stage. The 
Parthian king Vologeses occupied Armenia and provoked 
war. Corbulo, the Roman general, recovered the country, but 
it was lost again. At last a compromise was effected. The 66. 


crown of Armenia was t^iven to Tiridates, brother of the Par- 
thian king, who came to Rome and was formally invested in 
the Forum with his authority by Nero, the Roman emperor. 

65. The year after the great fire saw the upspringing of a 
serious conspiracy against Nero. It is known as the con- 
spiracy of Piso, because C. Calpurnius Piso was the man 
chosen by the conspirators to fill Nero's place. The emperor 
was now so unpopular that the conspiracy seemed likely to 
succeed, and many nobles joined it. But the secret leaked out. 

The discovery of the Piso conspiracy ushered in a reign of 
terror, in the course of which the innocent sufiered with the 
guilty. Seneca was one of the first to fall. Whether he was 
really implicated in the conspiracy or not we cannot say, but 
his name had been mentioned as a possible successor along with 
the name of Piso. 

This year also Poppsea died. It is said that her death 
was brought on by a kick given by Nero in a fit of passion 
or, perhaps more probably, of drunkenness. She was em- 
balmed, honoured with a public funeral and buried in the 
royal sepulchre. At a later period the Senate decreed that 
Divine honours should be paid to her and a temple was dedi- 
cated to her memory. 

66. Next year Nero paid Greece a long visit. The four great 
games at Olympia, Delphi, Isthmus and Nemea, which were 
celebrated in successive years, were crowded into one year for 
his sake. He competed in music and chariot racing, and won 
prizes. It would have been better for Nero's dignity if he had 
not competed, but there really was no harm in his going to 
Greece and patronising the national sports. They were in- 
finitely more respectable than the gladiatorial sports to which 
the Romans were accustomed. Nero's artistic tastes were 
genuine and he had a sincere admiration for the Greeks. 

During the emperor's absence from Rome, Helius, a freed- 
man, governed in his stead. This was displeasing to the 
nobles and there was discontent. Rumours came also of dis- 
content in tlio -svesteni provinces and even in the armies. 

NERO 81 

Helius hurried to Greece and advised the emperor to return at 
once if he would save his power. Nero accordinf^ly returned 68. 
and made a triumphal entry into Rome. But the triumph 
was short lived. 

Nero had many enemies and few friends. The reign of 
terror after the discovery of the Piso conspiracy had made 
many long for revenge, and when once the spirit of revolt 
spread to the armies it became merely a question who would 
take tlie lead. 

The standard of revolt was raised first by Vindex, a 
Romanised Celt, governor of part of Gaul. He collected a huge 
force in Gaul. It was undisciplined and he saw that without 
regular troops to help him he must fail. Accordingly he asked 
the help of Galba, the governor of Hither Spain. After some 
hesitation Galba also rebelled. But before there was time for 
him to take the field news came to him that Vindex had been 
defeated and slain. 

Galba's position now seemed desperate. All Rome knew 
of his defection, Nero had seized his property and an expedi- 
tion was being prepared for his overthrow. Perceiving that 
his only chance of safety lay in instant action, he harangued 
his troops, expatiated on the crimes of Nero, was saluted im- 
perator and marched towards Rome. But it was a long way 
from Hither Spain, and had Nero been a man of decision 
and courage he could yet perhaps have saved himself. The 
Praetorian guards were still faithful to him, but, whilst he 
delayed, emissaries from Galba made them such vast promises 
that they threw him up. The sentries left the palace, his 
attendants deserted him, and at length, accompanied by four 
freedmen only, he left Rome. One of the freedmen, Phaon, 
offered refuge in his villa in the subui'bs and there he lay hid. 
At last, hearing that Galba had been proclaimed as emperor 
and that the sentence of death had been passed on himself, he 
escaped the vengeance of his enemies by suicide. 

Nero's remains were treated respectfully. The body was 
cremated and the ashes buried in the Domitian sepulchre on 
VOL. II. 6 


the Pincian Hill. The liatred of the senators followed him 
after death. His very statues were overthrown. But the 
common people pitied him ; they forgot his faults, they re- 
membered only how open-handed he had been, and his grave 
was covered annually with wreaths of flowers. 



The Julian line ceased with Nero. The family, natural and 
adopted, had claimed the allegiance of the Roman people for 
more than a century and had obtained a hold upon their 
affections and imagination. Julius and Augustus had been 
deified, and their worship cast a glory over their descendants. 
However bad the emperor might be he was descended from a 
god, and ruled by divine right. 

On the whole the men had done their work well. It is in- 
evitable but unfortunate that history should have to make so 
much of the king and so little of the people. One is apt to 
imagine that during the reigns of men like Gaius and Nero all 
must have been confusion in the empire. It was not so. The 
excesses of the emperors made little difference to the staljility 
of the empire. Rome was excited at times. But the provinces 
were tranquil, and the empire was prosperous as a whole. 
Wliat the people in the provinces heard of Nero's conduct 
may not have satisfied them. But he was a Caisar, and they 
looked indulgently upon him. The wise amongst them knew 
that the alternative was anarchy. Better have a bad Caesar 
than none at all. 

Such was the hold that the Caesarean house had obtained 
upon the public mind that it is probable that if Nero had 
begotten a son the people would have bestowed the imperium 
upon him. But he had none, and a change of dynasty was 

The actual decision lay with the soldiers. Had these been 

of one mind all would have been well. But this was far from 



being the case, and the result was a war of succession which, 
though it lasted but a twelvemonth, saw four emperors upon 
the throne, and plunged Italy into civil strife. 

There were important armies in Gaul, Spain, on the Rhine, 
and in Syria. There were also the household troops in Rome. 
The Gallic army had shot its bolt and missed, and Galba had 
won the guards over to his side. 

When Galba heard of Nero's death, he assumed the title of 
emperor, and the Senate recognised him and sent a deputation. 
Galba was an able man. He had filled various public offices. 
He was wealthy and of good family. Had he been a younger 
man he might have held his own. But he was over seventy 
years of age, and not brilliant in any way. 
63. As Galba marched towards Rome he allowed his path to be 

stained with bloodshed. When approaching the city itself his 
troops attacked and slew some marines who were stationed at 
a bridge. They were Nero's soldiers, but he was dead, and 
the men could have had no serious thought of resisting Galba's 
progress. His severity, therefore, produced a bad impression 
in Rome. 

Promises of huge donatives had been made to the Prsetorian 
guards in the name of Galba. He did not fulfil them, in fact 
he could not. The treasury was empty, and the sums pro- 
mised had been absurdly high. But it is easy to see how such a 
failure would operate on tlie minds of the soldiers, and how 
they would be alienated at a time when their help was of the 
very first importance. 

Money was necessary, and Galba had to find it, but his 
financial measures were weakly conceived. He tried to make 
all those who had profited by Nero's liberality disgorge their 
wealth. This was a particularly unwise measure. Galba 
made little money out of it, for with most of Nero's friends 
it had been a case of " light come light go ". But the measure 
implicated many and alarmed more. If these matters were 
to be gone into, where would it end ? The contrast between 
Nero's open-handedness and Galba's meanness was quickly 


pointed out. In a word it was not easy for an old soldier of 
seventy to learn the art of ^ov^ernment in a day. 

In the hope of making the task of government Hghter, 
Galba associated Piso Licinianus with himself. Piso was of 
noble family, and little could be urged against him. But he 
was not a popular man, and his unpopularity reacted upon 
Galba. The choice was to the emperor a source of weakness, 
rather than strengtli. Moreover it offended a man of some im- 
portance. This was Otho, the former husband of Poppaea, 
who was again in Rome. He had returned from Lusitania 
deeply in debt, and willing to do any desperate deed for the 
sake of mending his fortunes. He had supported Galba from 
the first, and had hoped to be associated with him, and per- 
haps be eventually his successor. This hope was now taken 
away, and Otho determined to act on his own account. He 
easily corrupted the guards, among whom he had many friends. 
Galba's failure to pay the donative had exasperated them, 
they mutinied, Galba and Piso were slain, and Otho was de- 
clared emperor. 

Galba had reigned for but six months, Otho reigned but 69. 
about three. Even whilst he was compassing the destruction 
of Galba there was a rival in the field. The legions in Gaul 
and Spain had tried their hands at creating an emperor, and 
the legions in Germany saw no reason why they should not do 
the same. Accordingly the soldiers refused to take the oath 
of allegiance to Galba, and saluted their own general Vitellius 
as imperator. Vitellius himself was not at all keen about the 
position. He had received his appointment as general from 
Galba, and did not desire to be unfaithful to his trust, and 
news of Galba's death had not yet reached his camp. More- 
over, he was an easy-going, indolent and sensual man, who pre- 
ferred ease to ambition. Really he was suited neither for the 
post of general nor that of emperor. But his subordinate 
officers, especially Cascina and Valens, would take no denial, 
and he allowed himself to be persuaded. 

The legions advanced upon Rome in three sections. Cse- 


cina with one army marched through Gaul, Valens marched 
through Helvetia, Vitellius himself followed with the main 

Before the armies reached Italy they heard that Galba was 
dead and that Otho had succeeded him. This made the legions 
more eager than ever, and perhaps quieted certain qualms of 
conscience in the breast of Vitellius. Whatever claims to 
allegiance Galba might have had, Otho had none. Accordingly 
the armies pressed forward. 

Otho knew that the Germanic legions were formidable, and 
made overtures to his rival, offering him anything in reason if 
he would retire. Vitellius would perhaps have acceded, but 
his soldiers would not hear of any drawing back, and the war 
went on. 

The armies encountered each other at Placentia, and in the 
first engagements Otho's forces were successful. Otho himself 
showed great energy, and for a time it seemed as if the con- 
test would be decided in his favour. But the forces of 
Vitellius were coming up in increasing numbers all the time, 
and at last Otho's legions were defeated with great loss. Even 
then there seemed no need to relinquish the struggle. His 
soldiers were still faithful, the Praetorian guards had scarcely 
been in action, reserves were coming from Illyricum. But 
Otho lost heart, or possibly lost confidence in his generals, and 
finished the matter by suicide. 

In Rome the death of Otho brought about a feeling of relief. 
All dreaded civil war being brought near the city, and hoped 
that they would now escape. The Senate accordingly met and 
elected Vitellius as emperor without further question. 

With all his indolence Vitellius had common sense, and his 
administration was not unsatisfactory. He endeavoured to 
conciliate the Senate, checked processes for treason, and dis- 
turbed the arrangements made by his predecessors as little as 
he could. His generals, Csecina and Valens, had, however, an 
undue influence in the ati'airs of state. It was through their 
efibrts that Vitellius had obtained his position, and they made 


the most of their opportunity. Nevertheless, had Vitellius 
been left alone he might have risen to the occasion as many 
another has done, and ended by giving a good account of his 
stewardship. But this was not to be. 

There had been much stir amongst the legions in Syria and 
Judfea. At first they seemed to care little what happened at 
Rome. They accepted Galba, and they accepted Otho with 
indifference, and even when Vitellius became emperor they 
accepted him though without enthusiasm. The character of 
the man was known, and they doubtless thought that a better 
might have been chosen. When, however, the news came that 
Galba had been nominated by the legions in Spain, that Otho 
had been nominated by the Praetorian guard, and that Vitellius 
had been nominated by the legions on the German frontier, 
they had searchings of heart. Why should they be left out in 
the cold ; why should not they also set up a king ? Doubtless 
they believed that all these other legions had been richly 
rewarded by their nominees, whilst they had received nothing. 

The choice of the Eastern legions fell first upon Mucianus, 
the proconsul of Syria, but he refused ; upon which they 
turned to Titus Flavins Vespasianus, the legatus of Judaea- 
He was a man of humble origin, who had risen high by sheer 
merit. He had distinguished himself in Britain in the reign of 
Claudius. During the reign of Nero a serious rebellion had 
broken out in Judaea and Vespasian had been entrusted with 
the task of suppressing it. When Nero died Vespasian ceased 
hostilities for a time. It was desirable that he should have the 
approval of his successor before he proceeded much farther. 

Vespasian was widely and favourably known, and when once 
the suggestion was made that he should be emperor the armies 
of the East adopted it with enthusiasm. But Vespasian was 
cautious, and did not accept the position until both Mucianus, 
the proconsul of Syria, and Tiberius Alexander, the prefect of 
Egypt, urged it and promised their support. When he knew 
that Egypt, from which Rome had her corn supply, was on his 
side he hesitated no longer. Tiberius Alexander proclaimed 


69. him emperor at Alexandria, and the Judsean legions did the 
same at Caesarea. Mucianus, who had refused the supreme 
power himself, threw all his strength on the side of Vespasian, 
and the vassal kings of the East gave in their adhesion. 

In a council at Berytus the campaign against Vitellius was 
planned. It was decided that Vespasian should occupy Egypt, 
and thus obtain possession of the food supply of Rome, that 
his son Titus should succeed him as legatus in Judsea, and that 
Mucianus should march on Rome. 

The army of Mucianus was not large, less than 25,000 men, 
but he expected to be joined by the Illyric legions, who had 
been loyal to Otho and were intensely hostile to his successor. 
Mucianus marched slowly. He knew that the German legions 
were formidable, and he hoped that by moving slowly he might 
avoid bloodshed. The stoppage of the food supplies would 
have a great effect at Rome, perhaps even cause a revolution. 
But all his cautious planning was upset by the enthusiasm 
of the Illyric legions. These were under the command of 
Anton ius Primus, a dashing and impetuous officer who deter- 
mined to take Italy by surprise. He would not wait for the 
Eastern forces, therefore, but marched at once and quickly. 
His judgment was justified by results, for he overcame all 
opposition, gained a decisive victory over the forces of Vitel- 
lius at Betriacum, and captured Cremona. The town indeed 
capitulated, but the soldiers paid no respect to the capitulation 
and burned it to the ground. 

Vitellius had entrusted the command of his armies to Caecina 
and Valens. Csecina played him false ; Valens was too slow. 
He lost all his chances and at last fled. He took refuge in 
Gaul, but the procurator of that country had declared for 
Vespasian and Valens was captured and beheaded. 

The Vitellians now saw that the struggle was becoming hope- 
less. The legions of the Western provinces, Britain, Spain and 
Gaul declared for Vespasian. The East was already his and 
Italy was divided. 

Vitellius saw that his cause was lost, and when Primus 


offered him a safe retreat in Campania and Mucianiis confirmed 
the offer by letter he would readily have agreed ; but there 
were now two parties in Rome, the Flavians and the Vitellians. 
The Flavians espoused the cause of Vespasian and demanded 
that his terms should be accepted ; the Vitellians, amongst 
whom were many soldiers of the Praetorian guard, were per- 
fectly irreconcilable. They would not hear of yielding and 
took care that Vitellius should not escape. Fierce riots en- 
sued, and the Capitol was burned to the ground. In the midst 
of the tumult Primus reached Rome and his forces broke into 
the city, driving its defenders before them. There was pro- 
longed street fighting and terrible slaughter. Then tlie Prae- 
torian camp was stormed. Fifty thousand men are said to 
have fallen, and amongst them was the emperor. 

For a time Rome was in the hands of the soldiery and was 
treated as a conquered city. But Muciauus arrived and took 
control. All licence was now sternly repressed, the Senate met 
in proper form, and the impcrium was conferred upon Ves- 
pasian by the usual decrees. 

This had been indeed an eventful year. It has been called 
the year of the four emperors, for within a twelvemonth Galba, 
Otho, Vitellius and Vespasian had ruled in Rome. It was a 
striking object lesson to the empire on the merits of dynastic 
succession as opposed to military nomination. Between the 
succession of Augustus and the death of Nero a century had 
elapsed, and but five monarchs had reigned. They were not 
perfect. Two of them. Gains and Nero, had been very imper- 
fect indeed. But they had succeeded to one another without 
civil war, and the machinery of state started by Augustus had 
kept moving whether the ruler were good or bad. 

Now for the moment dynastic succession had failed, and 
with what result ? Rome had seen four emperors in twelve 
months, and both country and capital had been plunged into 
all the horrors of a destructive civil strife. The principle of 
dynastic succession might not work to perfection, but it was 
manifestly better than the alternative. 



69. Titus Flavius Vespasianus, with whom began the second 
imperial dynasty, was one of the most useful of Roman em- 
perors. Not that he was either a very great or a very clever 
man. But he was a strong man, and at this time a strong 
man was sorely needed at Rome. 

Vespasian was a man of the people and proud of it. A 
solid, squarely built man, fond of rough humour, impervious 
to flattery, accessible to all. A good soldier and a good ad- 
ministrator. There have been many United States Presidents 
of the same stamp. 

The elevation of a man of humble birth to the supreme 
position in the State was a new thing in Rome. Hitherto the 
emperors had been aristocrats. From Julius Ca3sar to Nero 
they had been of the same distinguished family. After Nero 
it had been much the same thing. Galba was a patrician ; 
Otho of good Etruscan family ; Vitellius the son of a senator 
and grandson of a knight. 

Vespasian was a Sabine. His grandfather had collected 
small debts ; his father had been in the customs. It was a 
great change for the Romans to have such an one emperor, the 
forerunner of greater changes that were to come. 

The new emperor did not at once come to Rome. Vitellius 
was slain on the 21st of December, 69, and Vespasian did not 
reach Rome until the summer of 70. Before he arrived the 
Senate had begun to rebuild the Capitol. It was on the 
foundations of the old one, but was raised to a greater height. 

During Vespasian's reign there were serious revolts among 

the Batavians and the Jews. 



The Batavians lived on the Delta of the Rhine, in a part of 
what is called the Netherlands. They were excellent soldiers 
and had been greatly used as auxiliaries by the Roman 
generals. They were capital swimmers, and when Plautius 
was invading Britain it was Batavians who swam across the 
Thames and turned the British flank. 

During Nero's reign two of their principal officers, Julius 
Civilis and Claudius Paulus, had been accused of treason. 
Paulus was executed by the governor of Lower Germany, 
Civilis was sent to Rome and thrown into prison. When Nero 
fell Galba released him. Then followed the death of Galba 
and soon thereafter the death of Otho. 

The Batavians helped Vitellius in his war against Otho, 
but when the struggle Ijetween Vitellius and Vespasian followed 
they supported Vespasian. Civilis was now amongst them 
and at their head. Acting at first in the name of Vespasian, 
he roused not only his own people but the troops of Germany 
and Gaul. Soon he had a formidable array at his command and 
the generals sent against him b}" Vitellius were easily overthrown. 

When Vitellius perished and Vespasian had been declared 
emperor the war should have ceased. But the Batavians and 
Gauls had many grievances, and even longed for their old 
independence. It was easier to induce them to take up arms 
than to persuade them to lay them down. The effort on behalf 
of Vespasian now became a revolt and spread until much of 
Gaul was involved. Beginning against Vitellius, it was now 
directed against Rome and there was talk of a Gallic empire. 

Had there been perfect harmony between the Batavians 
and the Gauls the revolt would have been serious indeed, but, 
fortunately for Rome, there was much jealousy between them. 
The Batavians were just as little inclined to be the subjects of 
a Gallic empire as they were to be the subjects of Rome. 
Accordingly when Vespasian sent Cerealis with a large army 
to crush the revolt he succeeded, though not without difficulty. 
Civilis made good terms for his people, and Vespasian, remem- 
bering how the revolt began, wisely let bygones be bygones. 


When Vespasian was nominated as emperor he was engaged 
in quelling a revolt in Judaea. The Jews had long been con- 
sidered a trouble in the empire. The religious views to which 
they held with such tenacity brought them into frequent 
collision with the civil power. It was not easy for a free- 
thinking Roman governor to understand why Jews should 
make so much fuss about their particular form of religion, 
should refuse to worship dead emperors and to place statues of 
living ones in their synagogues. Nor did the Jews make it any 
easier for the Romans than they could help. They thought it 
a disgraceful thing to be under the heel of idolaters, and were 
generally in a condition of unrest. Thus both principle and 
prejudice combined to make the Jews difficult subjects, and 
only the wisest of governors could prevent disturbance. On 
the other hand, any unscrupulous official could bring the Jews 
almost at any moment into collision with the Roman power. 

During the reign of Tiberius when Pontius Pilate was 
governor there had been tumult and massacre in Judsea. In 
the reign of Gains matters became worse, for the emperor 
ordered that his statue should be placed in the Holy of Holies, 
and civil war was only prevented by his death. 

During the reign of Nero, the disaffection was widespread, 
tumults were incessant, and Jews were massacred in many 
cities. In Alexandria, Tiberius Alexander, the governor, him- 
self of the Jewish race, is said to have slaughtered tens of 
thousands of them. At Csesarea 20,000 are said to have been 

In Jerusalem the Jews were in a great majority, and, mad- 
dened by the reports which were brought from other places, 
they rose against their enemies and defeated them with great 
slaughter, cutting the Roman garrison to pieces. 

Cestius Gallus, the governor of Syria, now marched upon 
Jerusalem with 30,000 men, but the fortifications were too 
strong for him, and he had to retreat with heavy loss. After 
his defeat the rebellion spread quickly, and soon the whole 
country was in the hands of the insurgents. 


The news of these untoward events reached Nero when he 
was in Greece, and he saw that the crisis demanded the utmost 
energy. Accordiii^-ly he sent Vespasian, wlio had the reputa- 
tion of being one of the best officers in the Roman army, with 
full power to deal with the matter. 

Vespasian entered Palestine with 50,000 men and deferred 
an advance upon the capital until he had recovered the coun- 
try. He proceeded slowly, capturing the cities one by one. 

Perhaps Vespasian's most memorable siege was that of 
Jotapata in which Josephus, the famous Jewish historian, 
Hgured. The siege lasted forty-five days, and Josephus, who 
was in command, escaped with his life. He was taken into 
favour by Vespasian and used as an ambassador in his com- 
munications with the Jews. He took the name of his patron 
Titus Flavins Josephus. 

After the death of Nero, Vespasian suspended military 
operations, waiting probably until his instructions were con- 
firmed by Galba. When afterwards he was himself proclaimed 
emperor, he left Titus, his elder son, who had been his right 
hand during the war, to finish the task. 

In the spring of the year Titus marched upon Jerusalem. 70. 
The city was torn by faction. There were three main parties ; 
there had been much bloodshed and confusion reigned. But 
when Titus approached all united against the common foe. 

The Roman army was of vast size, numbering 100,000 men, 
one of the finest armies Rome had ever placed in the field. 

The city was thronged with people from all parts. Many 
persons, driven from their homes in the surrounding districts, 
had hurried to the capital for refuge. It was also the time of 
the passover, a time when Jerusalem was always crowded. 
No adequate stores had been laid in for a siege, and the Jews 
would have been well advised had they yielded upon almost 
any terms. But this was far from their thoughts, and Titus 
encompassed the city with his army. 

The siege lasted for five terrible months. Greater misery 
than that endured by the inhabitants of Jerusalem during 


those months has rarely been recorded in the history of man- 
kind. The desperate wild-cat courage which rarely fails the 
Semitic race when driven to bay, which fought at Tyre against 
Alexander the Great, and at Carthage against Rome, was now 
displayed at Jerusalem. 

Had the Jews been united, and had the city been properly 
prepared and provisioned for a siege, the Romans might have 
been baulked in the end. But overcrowded and unprovisioned 
as it was it could not long resist the fury of the Roman assault. 
Breaches were made, walls were scaled, and then house by 
house, street by street, quarter by quarter, the city was taken 
and destroyed. The number of victims we can only guess at. 
Josephus declares that over a million perished. If we divide 
his figures in half they are yet terrible. Herod's temple, the 
wonder of the world, was burned to the ground, and the city 
was heaped in ruin. 

The destruction of Jerusalem, and perhaps especially the 
destruction of the temple by Titus, was a blow from which 
Jewish nationality never recovered. For a thousand years 
Jerusalem had been the Jewish centre, and every stone was 
precious in their sight. It was now levelled with the dust. 
Many Jews still clung to Palestine, and efforts were made to 
rebuild the city. In the time of Hadrian the Jewish popula- 
tion had so greatly increased in Judaea that they were able 
to carry on a warfare with the Roman armies for three years. 
Once more they were crushed, and once more Jerusalem was 
ground to powder. A Roman legion encamped on its ruins, 
and the Jews were forbidden even to dwell in its vicinity. 

The destruction of Jerusalem by Titus did not of itself 
scatter the Jewish race. Jerusalem has been often destroyed, 
and the Jewish race has been often scattered. It is a couimon 
complaint made by Jews when they are reproached because 
their fathers crucified Christ that their fathers had left Jeru- 
salem centuries before the dawn of the Christian era. This 
is true, yet every Jewish heart turned towards Jerusalem, 
the temple was there, it was the common home of their race. 


This feeling must now, for many centuries at least, be at an 
end. Jerusalem indeed was rebuilt, but the temple was never 
rebuilt, and the city itself has since been a pagan centre, a 
Christian centre, and a Moslem centre, but never again a 
Jewish centre. The destruction of the temple by Titus, and 
the double destruction of the city by Titus and Hadrian were 
final. The Jews were crushed in the centre of their religious 
and national life, and did not again rally round a common 
purpose. They accepted their cruel fate, and went forth wan- 
derers, found everywhere, yet everywhere " a people dwelling- 
alone, and not reckoned among the nations ". 

After the revolts in Gaul and Judjsa had been quelled, the 
reign of Vespasian was peaceful and the empire prospered. 
Rome had not yet recovered from the great fire, nor had the 
treasury recovered from the extravagance of Nero and the 
waste of civil war. Vespasian had therefore to face serious 
financial difiiculties, but he faced them with resolution. He 
had to increase taxation, and he exacted a strict account from 
the tax collectors. But he showed a good example by himself 
living a frugal life and curtailing the expenses of court. 

Vespasian paid special attention to the guarding of the 
frontiers, and thus gave his successors an example which 
several of them followed. The idea of world-wide empire 
was unpopular now, and Rome aimed chiefly at preventing 
aggression. Vespasian reorganised the Danubian flotilla, and 
moved the camping gi*ound of the legions to the river bank. 
Farther north he began a line of fortifications on the eastern 
side of the Rhine. Adventurous Gauls had taken possession 
of waste lands across the river. They were outside the pro- 
vince, but paid tithe to Rome. Vespasian began to build a 
wall for their protection, and Domitian completed it. On the 
eastern frontier Vespasian made Cappadocia a kind of county 
palatine, placing it under the command of a legate of consular 
rank, who had the task of defending the upper Euphrates. 

Himself a provincial, Vespasian sympathised witli the pro- 
vinces, and improved the status of the towns and municipali- 


ties. Many of these had been formed under the lex Julia 
municipalis, a law passed by JuHus Caesar. 

Durin^^ Vespasian's reign the Imperial position became 
better defined. The title of " Imperator Caesar Augustus" 
was made common to the emperors. The claims of hereditary 
descent were appreciated and more fully recognised. Vespasian 
fortunately had two sons old enough to succeed him, Titus 
and Domitian. The heir apparent took the name of Caesar, 
his head appeared with that of the emperor upon the coinage, 
and his name was associated with his in public prayer. The 
theory that the king should never die was beginning to be 

The old system of dual control between emperor and 
Senate was now largely ignored. The powers of the magis- 
trates in Rome fell mostly into the hands of the prefect of 
the city, and of the prefect of the guard, both of whom were 
appointed by the emperor. The emperor still used the decrees 
of the Senate (senatus considta) as convenient instruments of 
legislation, but they were merely his own decrees, introduced 
in an imperial speech and formally acclaimed by them. 

The senatorial order itself was changed. Vespasian ad- 
mitted men of merit to the Senate freely, and his successors 
followed his example. Thus the old families who had been 
such a source of trouble throughout Roman history became 
less powerful. The Roman aristocracy became now more like 
the aristocracy of England at the present time. Wealth, in- 
fluence, faithful service, legal knowledge and the like were the 
keys which opened the senatorial door. 

Vespasian found economy necessary, and was therefore 
accused of meanness. But he was not mean. Many important 
works were begun and carried out during his reign. The 
great fire had provided abundant opportunity for the erection 
of new public buildings, and Vespasian took advantage of it 
The words " Roma resurgens " are found on coins of this reign. 

The most famous of Vespasian's buildings is the Colosseum. 
In early times the theatres had been built of wood. One had 


been built of stone, but burned down in the great fire. Ves- 
pasian began, Titus carried on, and Domitian completed the 
vast amphitheatre which, even in ruin, is still the most im- 
pressive sight in Rome. In its perfect state it accommodated 
90,000 spectators. The great public buildings known as the 
baths of Titus were also begun by Vespasian. 

Vespasian had his enemies, and conspiracies were formed 
against him. He crushed them but without undue severity. 
When advised to pass more severe sentences he said : "I do 
not kill dogs that bark at me ". 

Vespasian's good humour rarely forsook him. When the 
king of Parthia wrote him, loftily inscribing his letter, 
" Arsaces, King of Kings, to Titus Flavins Vespasianus," the 
Roman emperor replied, " Titus Flavins Vespasianus to Arsaces, 
King of Kings ". 

Vespasian was an indefatigable worker, never sparing him- 
self. In his seventieth year, feeling his health failing, he re- 
visited the home of his boyhood, a little town in the Sabine 
hills. But he got a chill and came back worse. Though he 
realised that death was approaching he went on with his work. 
" An emperor," he said, " should die on his feet." 

After his death a decree of the Senate consecrated him, as 
Julius, Augustus and Claudius had been consecrated. No one 
would have been more amused at it than Vespasian himself. 




79. Titus Flavius Sabinus Vespasianus, commonly called Titus, 
now succeeded to the throne, his age being thirty-eight years. 
His father, Vespasian, had been a favourite with Claudius, 
and Titus was brought up in the imperial court and edu- 
cated along with Britannicus. He is said to have been at the 
banquet early in Nero's reign when Britannicus was poisoned, 
and the curious ideas of the Romans with regard to poisoning 
actually led them to attribute his death twenty-five years later 
to the alleged fact that he had taken a sip from Britannicus' 

When a young man Titus served with credit as military 
tribune both in Britain and Germany. When Nero entrusted 
Vespasian with the subjugation of Judaea, Titus had command 
of a legion. When Vespasian was proclaimed emperor he 
left his son to finish the task, and especially the capture of 
Jerusalem. Titus carried out the work by sweeping the city 
from the face of the earth and slaying its inhabitants, man, 
woman and child. His conquest of Jerusalem gave him a great 
military reputation at Rome. 

71. The year after the fall of Jerusalem Titus returned to Rome 

and joined his father in the customary triumph. Some years 
later the well-known Arch of Titus was built at Rome on the 
Via Sacra to commemorate the conquest of Jerusalem. The 
sculptures on the monument represent Jewish trophies, cap- 
tives and the like. 

Vespasian, following the example of Augustus with regard 
to Tiberius, admitted his son Titus to a share in the govern- 
ment of the empire. The proconsular imperium and the 



tribunician power were bestowed upon him. Vespasian also 
made him praetorian prefect so that his share in the task of 
government was substantial, and his ultimate succession was 

Though the military reputation of Titus was high he was 
not at this time a favomnte with the people of Rome. This 
was partly owing to the fact that he had brought with him a 
Jewish mistress from Judaea, Berenice, the sister of Agrippa. 
Both she and her brother were lodged in the palace, and it was 
said that Titus meant to marry her for his third wife. The 
Romans did not mind how many concubines Titus had, but 
they did not want a Jewess as empress, and the intended union 
gave dissatisfaction. Perceiving this, and doubtless influenced 
by his father's advice, Titus sent Berenice back to Judsea. 
After the death of Vespasian she returned to Rome, hoping 
that he might then marry her, but he declined. His life proved 
a short one and he did not again marry at all. 

When Vespasian died Titus succeeded without demur. His 79. 
reign had been looked for with some apprehension. He had 
been fond of dissipation, and it was feared that he might 
prove another Nero. But when he obtained power he braced 
himself up for a time. What might have happened had his 
reign been long continued we cannot tell ; but it only lasted 
for two years. 

Vespasian had governed Rome with rare ability. Realising 
the extraordinary importance of careful finance he had exer- 
cised strict control over the collection of the revenue and had 
seen that everything was carried out with economy. The ex- 
travagance of Nero had emptied the treasury, Vespasian had 
the task of refilling it. Of course he got little thanks, and has 
been handed down to posterity as a parsimonious emperor. 

The reign of Titus was, whilst it lasted, a reaction against 
his father's policy. He exercised little control over the public 
officials, and they quickly fell back into their dishonest habits. 
The money which his father had left in the treasury he scat- 
tered with both hands. None ever went from his presence 


empty away. His famous saying, " I have lost a day," was 
not uttered because during that day he had done no kind 
action, but because during that day he had bestowed no gift. 
Looked at in this h'ght it loses much of its significance. It 
evidently never occurred to Titus that money raised by the 
taxation of the people was trust money, which should be ear- 
marked for the business of the state and not lavished upon 
favourites. Nero also had begun like this, and had been a 
prime favourite whilst the money lasted, and Titus would also 
have remained a favourite, " the darling of the human race," 
just so long as the money lasted, and not a day longer. His 
popularity was based on no true foundation, he was building 
his house upon the sand. But he died before the treasury was 
quite empty, and bequeathed the unpopular task of refilling it 
to his successor. 

Short though the reign of Titus was it contained within 
itself incidents of tragic importance. Scarcely had he suc- 
ceeded to the purple when there was an extraordinary eruption 
of Vesuvius, an event of which recent circumstances have un- 
happily again reminded us. For centuries Vesuvius had been 
quiescent, so that it was looked upon as an extinct volcano. 
The mountain was covered with verdure, vineyards and villages 
abounded on its slopes. Nestling at its foot were several towns, 
of which Pompeii and Herculaneum were the most important. 
Virgil speaks of the beauty of the region, even yet one of the 
most enchanting places in the world. 

Pompeii and Herculaneum were favourite resorts of the 
Roman aristocracy, the wealthy amongst them had villas there, 
built and ornamented luxuriously in the Greek fashion. The 
confidence of the residents had been rudely shaken sixteen 
63. years before the date of the eruption by a serious earthquake, 
which did much mischief in Pompeii, and overturned some of 
its principal buildings. The private houses, being of lower 
height, were not much injured, and the disaster had passed 
from the minds of the people. Then all at once came the great 

TITUS 101 

The description of the eruption has been preserved for us 
by Pliny the younger, who was an eye-witness. He was 
eighteen years of age at the time, and was staying at the house 
of his uncle Pliny the elder, a man famous for his painstaking 
work as a naturalist. The uncle was admiral of the imperial 
fleet which was stationed in the harbour of Misenum, and he 
dwelt in a villa on the Misenian promontory twenty miles dis- 
tant from the summit of Vesuvius. 

Whilst the uncle and nephew were sitting at their studies 
they noticed that a strange-looking cloud was hanging over 
Vesuvius, spreading out from a slender vertical stem in tree- 
like fashion. The uncle ordered his cutter to be manned at 
once and crossed to the mountain, but the nephew preferred 
not to leave the work on which he was engaged. 

When the admiral arrived on the scene, he was met by 
crowds of fugitives, beseeching help to get to sea. He gave 
instructions that the largest vessels of the fleet should sail to 
the most dangerous points and stand by to save as many 
people as they could. There can be no doubt that Pliny, by 
this promptitude, saved many lives. The researches made so 
industriously have shown that comparatively few lives were 
lost in Herculaneum and Pompeii. Evidently the inhabitants 
of the towns and villages in proximity to the mountain took 
warning early and escaped in time. Many would go inland, 
some were carried away in private vessels, some in the vessels 
of the fleet. 

Unfortunately though Pliny thus wisely provided for the 
escape of others, he himself fell a victim. It was really his 
own blame. Not dreaming how serious the eruption would 
be, he delayed unduly, passing the night at a friend's house 
which stood well within the dangerous circle. In the night 
matters became so alarming that the servants aroused him, 
and aided by torches, for the sky was densely overcast, 
they made their way to the shore. So close was the danger 
that they had 'to envelope their heads to protect them from 
the hot cinders. When they reached the shore no boat 


was visible and Pliny could go no farther. He lay down 
and the terrified servants deserted him. Three days after- 
wards his nephew found him lying dead. His face was calm 
and there were no signs of burning. He may have died from 
the effects of the poisonous gas which accompanies an eruption 
and sinks to the ground by its own weight. Or he may 
have died from ordinary heart failure. He was an old man 
an<l corpulent, and had been hurrying beyond his strength. 

The direction of the wind carried the fire and cinders over 
the city of Pompeii, and it was buried under ashes to a depth 
of fifteen feet. Herculaneum perished in a different way. It 
was engulfed in streams of lava or liquid mud. More recent 
eruptions added to the depth of lava, so that the city was 
buried by a bed more than seventy feet thick. 

After danger from the eruption had passed, the scene was 
visited by the former inhabitants in hope that something 
might be done to repair the damage. But the destruction had 
been complete, and the position of the cities could only be 
guessed from the landmarks. At last the cities became little 
more than legend. 

In the beginning of the eighteenth century, in sinking a 
well in the village of Resina, the excavators found mosaics, 
and suspected that they belonged to Herculaneum. Little 
more was done at that time, but about the middle of the 
century systematic exploration was begun. The city of Pom- 
peii was comparatively easy of access, and from that time the 
work of discovery has gone on, both at Herculaneum and 
Pompeii. The museum at Naples abounds in interesting 
relics, and the discoveries made in the two cities have added 
greatly to our knowledge of the arts and habits of the Romans. 
80. In the following year, that is, about six months after the 

eruption, there was another disaster; a terrible fire in Rome, 
which did almost as much damage as had been done by the 
fire during the reign of Nero. The Capitol, destroyed in the 
riots during the last da3^s of Vitellius, and rebuilt by Vespasian, 
was again destroyed ; the Pantheon also was burnt, and many 

TITUS 103 

public buildings. It is noteworthy that though the former 
fire had been unhesitatingly laid to Nero's charge, no one 
dreamt of implicating Titus in this almost equally serious con- 

The fire was followed by a pestilence, and great numbers 
of the people died. The pestilence was attributed by some of 
the Romans to noxious gases wafted from Vesuvius during its 
eruption. This is, of course, absurd, seeing that Rome is a 
great distance from Vesuvius, and that the eruption had taken 
place many months before. Doubtless the plague followed the 
fire because of the way in which the homeless people were 
huddled together, and the miserable sanitary conditions under 
which they lived. 

As some professed to believe that these afflictions be- 
tokened the wrath of the gods, Titus sought to propitiate 
them. Accordingly he hurried on the building of the Colos- 
seum, and dedicated it with games of extraordinary magni- 
ficence. The opening was premature, for the structure was 
not entirely finished until the time of Domitian his successor. 
How the games were to gratify the gods we do not know. 
Probably their propitiation was but an excuse, and the real 
reason was the desire to distract the minds of the people and 
lead them to forget their sorrows for a time. They had been 
greatly tried by the fire and the plague. 

The games included many gladiatorial combats, in some of 
which women took part. Five thousand wild animals were 
slaughtered, and the games lasted for three months. There 
were several dramatic representations, including one descrip- 
tive of the siege of Syracuse. There was also a sea fight, for 
which the arena was filled with water. Vast gifts of food 
were distributed to the people after the performances. The 
idea of distracting the minds of the people was doubtless 
benevolent, but it would have been wiser had Titus refrained 
from thus wasting the national resources. 

Shortly after these events Titus died. He was not a 
strong man, and the hardships of war and, it is to be feared, 


the inroads of dissipation ruined his constitution. He tried 
many physicians, but all were in vain. He died under forty 
years of age, having reigned but two years and two months. 

One thing must be mentioned to the credit of Titus. 
When he ascended the throne he determined that he would 
not inflict capital punishment upon Roman citizens, and during 
his short reign he kept his word. It is a pity that his tender- 
ness of heart did not lead him also to discountenance gladia- 
torial exhibitions. 

The worst feature of the government of Titus was its 
wastefulness. Another year would have made him bankrupt : 
then would have come taxation, oppression, recrimination. It 
was well for his reputation that he died comparatively young. 



Titus Flavius Domitianus Augustus, the younger son of si. 
Vespasian, now ascended the throne. He was thirty years of 
age, and had ah'eady shared some of the dangers that sur- 
round a throne. When his father was proclaimed emperor by 
the legions in the East he was resident in Rome and narrowly 
escaped being murdered by the Vitellians. During the riots 
which followed he took refuge in the Capitol with his uncle 
and some other relatives. When the Capitol was stormed his 
uncle was slain, but he hid in a porter's hut and escaped. 

When the Illyrian legions arrived and Vitellius was over- 
thrown Domitian was greeted as Caesar and installed in the 
palace, but Primus, the commander of the legions, kept the 
power in his own hands. Shortly afterwards Mucianus arrived 
and governed in the name of Vespasian. Domitianus was only 
eighteen years of age at the time, and was put on one side. 

When the Batavian War was in progress Domitian was 
eager to obtain military employment, but Mucianus feared to 
interfere with Cerealis, the general who was conducting the 
operations against Civilis. Domitian was therefore permitted 
to accompany Mucianus to Lugdunum (Lyons), but had no 
military duties. 

After his father returned to Rome Domitian was kept in 
the background, rather more perhaps than was necessary. 
Evidently Titus was Vespasian's favourite son. But there is 
no reason for affirming that Domitian was neglected. He was 
well educated, and received all the honour due to an emperor's 

After Vespasian's death Domitian is said to have hoped 


106 THE, EOMAN empire 

that Titus would recognise him officially as consort and ulti- 
mate succesGor. This may have been. But it seems hardly 
likely, as historians affirm, that he was bitterly disappointed 
because Titus did not do this at once. It was not usual for an 
emperor, himself comparatively young, to begin his reign by 
indicating his successor. After all, Titus was likely to marry 
again, and might have sons of his own. At any rate there was 
plenty of time. No one could have foreseen that the popular 
favourite would have so short a reign. 

On the death of Titus, Domitian hastened to Rome and, 
having been approved by the Praetorian guards and accepted 
by the Senate, he succeeded unchallenged to the throne. 

Domitian reigned for fifteen years, and reigned success- 
fully. One would not gather this from some of the cri- 
ticisms of his reign. Rarely has any emperor been more dis- 
paraged than Domitian. Pliny, Tacitus and the rest have 
treated his memory in the most venomous way, and modern 
historians have too readily accepted their verdict. Yet, putting 
aside malice, and judging Domitian purely by his actions, he 
will be found greatly superior in the virtues of kingship to his 
much-lauded brother, and worthy to stand, not in the first but 
certainly in the second rank of Roman emperors. 

Domitian's enemies were amongst the members of the 
senatorial party, and they had substantial reasons for their 

First, Domitian diminished their authority. There was a 
theory that the emperor could not elect a senator. This was 
the business of the censor and the censor's was a senatorial 
office. This was the theory, but the practice had long been 
otherwise. The emperor himself had been elected censor and 
had thus controlled the assembly. Claudius and Vespasian 
had been censors, and had elected and ejected whom they 
willed. But they so far regarded tradition as to lay down the 
censorship at the end of the year. Domitian made a new 
departure. He assumed the censorship for life. He could elect 
and eject, and the Senate was entirely in his power. 


Next, the senatorial party hated Domitian because he 
seized their money. The extravagance of Titus had emptied 
the treasury. The war in Britain which had been for several 
years in progress, and the subsequent Dacian War were costly. 
The buildings destroyed in the great fire in the reign of Titus 
had to be rebuilt, and the games and distributions of food 
which were, unfortunately, so common in Rome had to be paid 
for. Where was the money to come from ? The nobles had 
it. They were the landowners, the house owners, the slave 
dealers, the merchants, the money-lenders, not merely in Rome 
but throughout the empire. Much of their wealth had been 
obtained by robbing the poor. Seneca the philosopher, who 
was executed in the reign of Nero, was a millionaire, and had 
made his fortune lending money to wretchedly poor people in 
Britain at enormous interest. The revolt of the Iceni is said 
to have been due in some degree to his having suddenly called 
in his investments. Domitian preferred to plunder the classes 
rather than to increase the tribute and oppress the masses of 
the people. Hence some of their hatred. 

The senatorial party had good reason to hate Domitian in 
the end because of his severity. The emperor had no son. He 
was the last of the Flavians, and the question of the succession 
became serious. For the moment Domitian solved the diffi- 
culty by patronising the infant sons of Flavins Clemens, his 
cousin, and letting it be understood that one of them would 
succeed him. But the nobles would have preferred one of 
themselves and began to conspire. L. Antonius Saturninus, 
the governor of Upper Germany, revolted. He was of noble 88. 
family, and had accomplices among the senators. He induced 
two legions to proclaim him imperator, and sought help from 
the German tribes. Domitian went forth himself to suppress 
the revolt, but on his way learned that Saturninus had already 
been defeated and slain by Norbanus, a subordinate officer. 

When the emperor returned to Rome he made strict inquiry 
into the Saturninian conspiracy, and found that many were 
involved. Several senators were executed and the leading 


officers in the rebellious legions were put to death. Perhaps it 
was in accordance with law and with the custom of the time, 
but it would have been better for Domitian had he shown 
a more merciful spirit. If a man is caught red-handed killing 
him may be condoned, but to kill a man on suspicion of treason 
is to make a bitter enemy out of every member of his family. 

Some part of the unpopularity of Domitian was owing to 
the fact that he made a serious effort to improve the morals of 
the metropolis. The condition of Rome was horrible, and the 
wealthy were the chief offenders. Domitian endeavoured to 
carry out laws, some of which had already been passed by 
Augustus, against the grosser forms of evil. Amongst the 
laws enforced were those against adultery and unnatural crime. 
In connection with the former Domitian had the courage to do 
what few have attempted, and punished both sexes equally. 
A vestal virgin was condemned and executed in accordance 
with the barbarous custom of the time. The partner of her 
guilt, a member of the knightly order, was scourged to death 
in the comitium. One can well imagine the anger of the young 
aristocracy at such even-handed justice. 

Domitian also endeavoured to check the production of licen- 
tious plays and ballets upon the public stage. With perfor- 
mances in private houses he did not interfere. The emperor 
also made an earnest effort to put down the horrible practice of 
mutilating lads and making them eunuchs. This practice, one 
of the bye-products of polygamy, had been imported from the 
East, and was becoming prevalent in Rome. Domitian de- 
serves great credit for discountenancing it. 

The fire in Rome had rendered much rebuilding necessary. 
Domitian finished the Colosseum, rebuilt the Capitol, completed 
on a somewhat reduced scale the palace Nero had begun, 
created a Stadium in the Campus, and an Odeum for musical 
performances. He also built the Temple of Vespasian and Titus 
at the western end of the Forum. Some pillars of this temple 
are still standing. 

The patronage of men of letters was a feature of Domitian's 


reign. Under despotic rule thought is not free, and literature 
can flourish only on certain lines. This was very marked 
during the reign of Augustus. It is an incident of despotism 
even when the despot is benevolent. Nevertheless, in Domi- 
tian's reign literature was in a healthy state, and an eftbrt was 
made to raise the standard of taste. 

Among the literary men of the period were Quintilian, who 
wrote a sensible treatise on oratory, and Sextus Julius Fron- 
tinus, the eminent strategist, who wrote on engineering and 
military subjects. Two epic poets flourished during the reign, 
Silius Italicus and Papinius Statius. Another poet, Martial, a 
Spaniard by birth, wrote epigrammatic poetry. Domitian was 
the means of helping forward two men who afterwards be- 
came famous historians, Tacitus and Pliny the younger. Their 
historical work was done after his death, and they repaid his 
kindness by blackening his memory. Juvenal, the satirist, 
did some of his work during this reign. 

The foreign policy of Domitian was successful. Its interest 
centred in Britain, and in the Rhenish and Danubian provinces. 
We have seen how, in the reign of Claudius, Britain was 
subdued by Plautius as far west as Bath, as far north as Col- 
chester. We have also seen how Ostorius Scapula carried the 
conquest somewhat farther, overthrowing the British leader, 
Caractacus, and sending him prisoner to Rome. 

Suetonius Paulinus who became governor in the reign of 59. 
Nero, set himself to further subdue the West. He established 
a Roman camp at Chester, and from thence subjugated North 
Wales and Anglesey. Whilst he was engaged in this work, 
the Iceni, an important tributary State on the eastern side of 
the island, revolted. The revolt was caused by oppressive 
tax-gathering and the ill-treatment of women, the usual sources 
of rebellion in conquered countries. The Iceni were led by 
Boadicea, widow of their late king. W^hen this high-spirited 
woman dared to resist the robbery to which her estate was 
subjected, she was publicly flogged, and hei' daughters were 
outraged. She drove from tribe to tribe rallying her country- 


men, and they rose in great numbers. At tirst they were suc- 
cessful. Colchester and other Roman cities were stormed, and 
for a moment they carried all before them. But when the 
Romans had concentrated their forces, discipline and superior- 
ity of weapons prevailed. The Britons were slaughtered in 
heaps, and Boadicea slew herself that she might not fall into 
the hands of the enemy. 

The rebellion of the queen was not in vain. Suetonius 
was recalled, and his successors adopted conciliatory methods. 
Roads were built, Watling Street to the west. Ermine Street 
to the north, the roads crossing at Londinium. Loudon, Col- 
chester, Chester, Silchester, Cirencester, and other places 
began to develop. London gradually became an important 
commercial centre. The people began to prosper, and pros- 
perity brought a measure of content. 

During the reign of Vespasian, Cerealis, the general who 
had crushed the revolt of the Batavi, was sent to Britain. He 
extended the northern boundary as far as Lincoln. He was 
succeeded by Sextus Frontinus, and he again by Agricola. 

Agricola governed Britain for seven years, retaining the 
confidence of Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian. Aspiring to 
subdue the whole of Britain, he pushed northward to the 
Tyne, and built a chain of forts between that river and the 
Sol way. Then he went farther, moving along the east coast 
by the Firth of Forth. There for a time his progress north- 
ward was stayed, but he fortified the narrow neck between the 
Forth and the Clyde, and carried his arms westward to the 
extremest limits of Scotland. From Wigtonshire he sighted 
Ireland, and was most anxious to invade it. But when he 
applied to Domitian for another legion it was refused, and 
Ireland never became part of the Roman Empire. 

Agricola then penetrated farther into Caledonia, marching 
by the east coast, supported by a fleet coasting round Fife. 
The Caledonians gathered their forces, and a pitched battle was 
fought with Galgacus their leader near Forfar or Brechin. 
The battle resulted as usual in a Roman victory. 


After the battle, some part of Agricola's fleet sailed north- 
ward round the Pentland Firth, and as far as Cape Wrath. 
Having thus seen the extent of the island they returned by 
the same route to the Firth of Forth. They did not circum- 
navigate the island as some have thought. 

Before his fleet returned Agricola had been recalled. Taci- 84. 
tus, who was Agricola's son-in-law, declares that the recall was 
owing to the jealousy of Domitian. The accusation is ridicu- 
lous. Agricola had been for seven years in Britain, an un- 
usually long term of office. He had a large army, perhaps 
30,000 men, and a fleet. His expenses were huge, and his 
campaigns barren. What profit was to be gained by long 
marches over Caledonian moors ? The country was evidently 
poor, and the conquest of the whole would not add anything 
to the Roman exchequer. Domitian who had the greatest 
difficulty in finding mone}^ for pressing needs, determined to 
leave Caledonia alone. And his determination was wise. Agri- 
cola accepted his retirement with dignity, and it would have 
been better had his son-in-law done the same. 

Under Domitian the need for strengthening the defences 
along the Rhine and Danube was clearly perceived. Many 
Gauls had settled on the waste lands across the river. The 
districts thus occupied were called the agri decumates because 
the settlers paid a tithe of the produce of their fields to the 
Roman exchequer. They were subjected to attacks from the 
German tribes, and as they had no garrison, Vespasian tried to 
put their district upon a better footing for defence. He built 
roads, and also began a fortification on the eastern side 
similar to that used in Roman camps, a rampart and a ditch. 
Castella and watch towers were added. 

Aided by the skill of Sextus Frontinus, Domitian extended 
and improved this line of defence. In fm-therance of this 
object he made an expedition against the Chatti early in his 
reign. Members of that tribe were occupying districts which 
he wished to include within the rampart. The expedition 
was successful, the Chatti entering into a treaty which gave 


him all that he desired. Much contempt was cast upon the 
expedition by the enemies of Domitian, but it was really of 
first-class importance. In connection with it Domitian built 
the first permanent Roman bridge over the Rhine. 

After his campaigns on the Rhine Domitian had to attend 
to the Danubian frontier. Vespasian had improved the de- 
fences of this part of the empire somewhat, but they were still 
85. insufficient. The Dacian king Decebalus crossed the Danube, 
and invaded Moesia. Oppius Sabinus the Roman governor 
was slain and the land was ravaged, Domitian gave Cornelius 
Fuscus the Praetorian prefect the conduct of the war. He 
drove the enemy from Moesia, and chased him into Dacia. 
But there the Dacians turned, and with great efiect. The army 
was destroyed, and Fuscus was slain. 

Julianus was sent by Domitian to retrieve the disaster. 
He defeated the Dacians with great loss, but when he would 
have carried the war to their very capital he was recalled by 
Domitian, who had determined to rest satisfied. He made a 
treaty with Decebalus, and by a little timely concession saved 
much trouble. As a result of the war the province was now 
divided into Upper and Lower Moesia. Each section had its 
governor, and looked after its own defences. The peace with 
Dacia was kept for ten years. 

The wars in Britain, with the Chatti, and with the Dacians 
prove Domitian to have been a man who did not fight for the 
mere pursuit of glory, but in order to attain some definite pur- 
pose. When the purpose was attained he went no farther. 

In the last years of his reign relations between Domitian 
and the senatorial party became even more strained than 
before. The knowledge that they were plotting against him 
made him suspicious and cruel. Cruelty led to further plotting, 
and so the mischief grew. At length his wife Domitia, whom 
he had divorced because of a suspected intrigue, but afterwards 
recalled, formed a conspiracy against him in his own household 
and he was assassinated. 

The Senate rejoiced grea,tly at the death of Domitian. His 


statues and busts were torn down, his name was erased from 
all monuments, and he was refused decent bui-ial. But neither 
the soldiers nor the people sympathiseil with these unworthy - 

Rome had many worse rulers than Domitian. So far as 
we can judge by his actions, he was capable and just. He knew 
that he was well hated by the nobility and cared little about 
it. The people liked him and the soldiers loved him, and he 
thought this of far greater importance. 

Suetonius, the writer of several learned works, though he ^ 

has little favour for Domitian, yet leaves the following testi- 
mony to his merit : — 

" In ministering justice he was precise and industrious. 
Many a time, even in the common place sitting on the tribunal, 
he reversed the sentences of the centumvirs, given for favour 
and obtained by flattery. He warned the commissioners and 
judges not to accommodate themselves and give ear to per- 
suasive and rhetorical assertions. Judges that were bribed 
and corrupted with money he noted and disgraced, together 
with their assessors on the bench. He ordered the tribunes of 
the commons to accuse judicially a base and corrupt aedile for 
extortion, and to force him to restitution, and to order the 
Senate to have a jury, impanelled upon him. Moreover so 
strict was he with the magistrates in Rome and with the 
rulers of the provinces that never at any time were they more 
temperate or just." 

Like the rest of the Roman emperors Domitian had his 
faults. But he was a great monarch, the greatest of the 
Flavian line. 




96. DOMITIAN had treated the senatorial party with scant cour- 
tesy, and they determined that his successor should be more 
amenable. Accordingly they elected one from their number, 
M. Cocceius Nerva, a man sixty-five years of age, somewhat 
colourless perhaps, nevertheless one who had held important 
offices and was generally esteemed. 

The senators had no idea of restoring the republic or of 
adding anything to the liberties of the people. Their con- 
ception of a government for the Roman Empire would have 
been a senatorial oligarchy with the emperor as their own 
elected president, and the chief offices of State divided among 
themselves. If they could not obtain this, they at least 
wanted an emperor who would respect their ancient privileges 
and give them a substantial share in the government. 

There was a distinct difference between the conception of 
government which the senators had in their minds, and that 
which had now come to be the imperial conception. The 
senators cared little how Italy and the provinces might fare, 
so long as Rome was supreme, and so long as their little 
oligarchy was supreme in Rome. The best of the emperors 
had emancipated themselves from this narrow-mindedness. 
Julius Caesar was the first to see with clearness of vision that 
Rome was no longer a city but an empire. Augustus followed, 
fully realising his responsibilities to the provinces which Rome 
had herself undertaken to rule. Tiberius, Claudius, Vespasian, 
Domitian worked on the same lines. 

Nerva's short reign was retrogressive in this respect. He 

attended to Rome first, to Italy a little, to the provinces least 


NERVA 115 

of all. But his reign was so short that we have no wish to 
judge him harshly in this matter. 

Italy certainly needed attention. The country was poor. 
It had fallen in great measure into the hands of great land- 
owners. Grain was little grown, wine was the chief produc- 
tion, and much of the land was not cultivated at all. Nerva 
tried to help by methods which seem painfully modern. He 
tried to tempt the people back to the land by planting agri- 
cultural colonies here and there. But little came of the pro- 
ject. He also started a scheme for helping poor parents in 
the country to educate their children, and the scheme was 
encouraged by succeeding emperors, so that it lasted for a 
time. Nerva deserves credit for these efforts. But they were 
run by the senatorial party, and had the usual pauperising 
tendencies. It is not by means like these that a healthy 
nation is built up. 

Nerva was a kindly man, and he did his best to please. He 
suspended trials for treason, recalled exiles, and took oath that 
he would never condemn a senator to death. This, of course, 
was a purely selfish measure. If men were to be condemned 
to death by the emperor at all, there was no reason why 
senators should be exempt. 

Nerva's views on certain subjects coincided with those of 
Domitian, and several of his acts were retained. Nerva, more- 
over, refused to proscribe the adherents of the fallen emperor. 

The Praetorian guards had not opposed the election of 
Nerva, but they demanded the execution of the murderers of 
Domitian, and Nerva found it necessary to comply with their 

Nerva had, like every other Roman emperor, much trouble 
with finance. It is to his credit that he ventured to retrench 
upon the expenditure in games and spectacles, and even in re- 
ducing the doles of corn to the people. He could do this the 
more confidently as he also sold masses of imperial property, 
including superfluous furniture and jewellery. He showed 
some courage in abolishing a tax upon the Jews which Ves- 


pasian had instituted, and wliich was the occasion of much 

All that we know of Nerva is satisfactory. But he was 
fortunate in the brevity of his rei^-n. He was a little too fair- 
minded and kindly to please his senatorial friends. They 
would have been better satisfied had he been less tolerant of 
the friends of the former monarch. Accordingly, short though 
Nerva' s reign was, there was time for conspiracy, Calpurnius 
Crassus, a noble of haughty disposition, thought himself better 
suited for the imperial purple than Nerva and conspired. But 
he received little support and was easily overthrown. Nerva 
did not take his life as he well might, but only banished him 
to Tarentum. 

As Nerva was advanced in years he perceived the de- 
sirability of adopting an imperial consort and successor. As 
no member of his own family was suitable, his choice fell upon 
M. Ulpius Trajanus, the legatus of Upper Germany. To him 
accordingly Nerva wrote, but without waiting for his consent 
he adopted him. The Senate approved, and conferred upon 
Trajan the usual powers with the usual formalities. 
98. Nerva died very shortly after the adoption of Trajan, 

having reigned for the short period of sixteen months. He 
was too old when he became emperor to hope to be a popular 
monarch, but his rule was decidedly beneficent, and he de- 
serves to be remembered with esteem. 



^Iarcus Ulpius Trajanus who now ascended the throne was 98. 
by birth a Spaniard, a native of Italica, a town near Seville, in 
the south of Spain. His father had been in the Roman army, 
and fought against the Parthians and Jews. He commanded 
the tenth legion at the storming of Joppa. He had been consul 
at Rome and proconsul in Asia. 

The news of Nerva's death and of his own accession reached 
Trajan in Upper Germany where he was engaged strengthening 
and completing the fortifications across the Rhine which had 
been begun by Vespasian and extended by Domitian. Trajan 
did not hurry back to Rome. He spent the summer in the 
German and the winter in the Danubian provinces. At the 
beginning of the following year he reached Rome, and was 99. 
hailed with enthusiasm. 

The fact that the Romans accepted Trajan as emperor with- 
out question is noteworthy, for he was the first foreigner who 
sat upon the imperial throne. Doubtless his family was of 
Roman origin, but he was born in Spain. Vespasian was the 
first Italian, Trajan the first provincial emperor. Rome had 
travelled far since the days of Augustus, when a provincial 
might not even enlist in the guards. 

Trajan was fortj^-six years of age when he became emperor : 
he had- occupied civil posts with credit, and he was a successful 
soldier. In Rome he moved amongst the people in a simple 
fashion and ma<le himself popular. But he could be very cruel 
at times. Towards the guards who had demanded the execu- 
tion of Domitian's murderers he acted with undue severity, 
towards the delators of Domitian's reign whom Nerva had 



declined to punish, and who were perhaps after all little more 
than detectives or secret service men, he acted with ferocity. 

Trajan was an excellent fighting man and his military ex- 
ploits form his only claim to greatness. His prowess was 
chiefly displayed in Germany, Dacia and the East. His work 
in Germany was drawing to a conclusion when he ascended 
the throne. It was useful work. Germany was attracting the 
special notice of the Roman people at this time, because of the 
writings of Tacitus, whose Germania had just appeared. 

The Dacian campaigns of Trajan extended over five years. 
Historians take infinite pains to find reasons for the annexation 
of Dacia, a province which lay across the Danube, apparently 
quite beyond the sphere of Roman influence. The mistakes of 
Domitian, the disloyalty of Decebalus, the raids of the Dacians, 
are pleaded. But perhaps we need not seek so far for a reason. 
Dacia was reputed rich in mineral wealth, gold, silver and iron, 
and the Romans coveted its treasures, as they had formerly 
coveted the mineral treasures of Britain. This was probably 
the most substantial reason for the annexation. 

101. Trajan invaded Dacia with a mighty army and bore down 
all opposition. When he reached the capital, a town now 

102. known as Gradischtje or Varhely, King Decebalus capitulated, 
and Trajan returned to Rome. But this invasion had been a 
mere reconnaissance. In two years Trajan was back on the 

104. Danube with a yet greater army. The Dacians now perceived 
that the Romans meant to seize their country and fought 
fiercely for their independence. When their every effort was in 
vain Decebalus slew himself and many nobles perished with him. 
Trajan now declared Dacia a Roman province and returned 
to Rome carrying with him a vast amount of booty. With the 
Dacian treasure he rewarded his troops, gave great gifts to the 
populace, and built a Forum in which stands Trajan's column, 
still one of the sights of Rome. The incidents of the war are 
carved round the column in a spiral band, and form almost the 
only record of the campaigns. Trajan wrote an account of his 
conquest, but it has not survived. 


Having thus acquired and in many places devastated Dacia, 
Trajan proceeded to settle colonists there. Skilful miners es- 
pecially were sent, and the produce of the gold mines enriched 
the Roman treasury for many years. A permanent stone 
bridge was built across the Danube at Turnu Severin. 

Whilst Trajan was thus employed Cornelius Palma, the 
governor of Syria, added to the empire a strip of land on the 
east side of his province. This rectification of frontier was 
justifiable, because in this way the caravan routes between 
Egypt and the Euphrates were better protected. The new 
boundary extended to the Red Sea, embracing the Sinaitic 
peninsula and the old land of Midian. It included Petra, a 
city which had been important in the days of Augustus and 
became more important now. Its ruins are still magnificent. 
From this city the district was called Arabia Petraea. 

After the conquest of Dacia Trajan undertook no other 
great military enterprise for seven years, but attended to the 
affairs of civil government. 

The emperor was conciliatory with the Senate, but restored 
to it no real power. Indeed he rather extended the imperial 
influence over local administrations and provinces hitherto sub- 
ject to the Senate. 

Trajan was careful in administering justice and established 
a court to deal specially with fiscal suits. 

Finance was more easily managed during the reign of 
Trajan because of the large increase of revenue which was 
derived from the Dacian mines. But Trajan had established a 
precedent by giving after the Dacian Wars huge gifts of 
money to the people of Rome, for which his successors gave 
him no thanks. 

The harbours of Ostia, Civita Vecchia and Ancona were 
improved during Trajan's reign, roads were constructed, public 
baths were built and the water supply was extended. 

Following Nerva's example, Trajan granted State endow- 
ments to various Italian towns to help in the education of 
the children of poor parents. He also granted State loans 


to small landowners at low interest, in order to improve 

Some of Trajan's legislation was of doubtful value. Of 
such was the legislation which compelled provincials who be- 
came senators to invest in Italian land ; legislation to check 
emigration from Italy to the colonies, and legislation which 
made the condition of slaves and freedmen less tolerable. Tra- 
jan's dread of corporate action amongst the people amounted to 
a mania. When Pliny was governor of Bithynia and a con- 
flagration took place in one of the towns, he asked Trajan's 
permission to organise a fire brigade. Trajan refused permis- 
sion because corporations, whatever name they bore, were sure 
to eventually become political societies. Let Pliny supply ap- 
paratus, warn property owners to be careful, and, in case of 
need, employ the populace. 

During Pliny's governorship matters of much interest 
happened in connection with the Christians. At first they 
were treated as a Jewish sect, and shared in the toleration 
which Jews generally enjoyed. But the difference between 
Jew and Christian became manifest when it was found that 
the Christians made proselytes freely. 

Evidently in Bithynia those professing Christianity had 
become so numerous that ordinary temple worship was neg- 
lected, and the trade of the priests and of those who sold beasts 
for sacrifice was interfered with. Pliny accordingly wrote to 
Trajan for advice. He said : — 

" I have never been present at trials of Christians, and 
consequently do not know for what reasons, or how far, punish- 
ment is usually inflicted or inquiry made in their case. Nor 
have my hesitations been slight : as to whether any distinc- 
tion of age should be made, or persons however tender in 
years should be viewed as differing in no respect from the full- 
grown : whether pardon should be accorded to repentance, 
or he who has once been a Christian should gain nothing 
by having ceased to be one ; whether the very profession 
itself if unattended by crime, or else the crimes necessarily 


attaching to the profession, should be made the subject of 

" Meanwhile, in the case of those who have been brought 
before me in the character of Christians, my course has been 
as follows : I put it to themselves whether they were or were 
not Christians. To such as professed that they were, I put 
the inquiry a second and a third time, threatening them with 
the supreme penalt}^ Those who persisted, I ordered to execu- 
tion. For, indeed, I could not doubt, whatever might be the 
nature of that which they professed, that their pertinacity, at 
any rate, and inflexible obstinacy, ought to be punished. There 
were others afflicted with like madness, with regard to whom, 
as they were Roman citizens. I made a memorandum that they 
were to be sent for judgment to Rome. Soon, the very hand- 
ling of this matter causing, as often happens, the area of the 
charge to spread, many fresh examples occurred. An anony- 
mous paper was put forth containing the names of many 
persons. Those who denied that the}^ either were or had been 
Christians, upon their calling upon the gods after me, and 
upon their offering wine and incense before your statue, which 
for this purpose I had ordered to be introduced in company 
with the images of the gods, moreover, upon their reviling 
Christ — none of which things it is said can such as are really 
and truly Christians be compelled to do — these I deemed it 
proper to dismiss. Others named by the informer admitted 
that they were Christians, and then shortly afterwards denied 
it, adding that they had been Christians, but had ceased to be 
so, some three years, some many years, more than one of them 
as much as twenty years, before. All these, too, not only 
honoured your image and the effigies of the gods, but also 
reviled Christ. They affirmed, however, that this had been 
the sum, whether of their crime or their delusion ; they had 
been in the habit of meeting together on a stated day, before 
sunrise, and of offering in turns a form of invocation to Christ, 
as to a god ; also of binding themselves by an oath, not for 
any guilty purpose, but not to commit thefts, or robberies, or 


adulteries, not to break their word, not to repudiate deposits 
when called upon ; these ceremonies having been gone through, 
they had been in the habit of separating, and again meeting 
together for the purpose of taking food — food, that is, of an 
ordinary and innocent kind. They had, however, ceased from 
doing even this, after my edict, in which, following your 
orders, I had forbidden the existence of fraternities. This 
made me think it all the more necessary to inquire, even by 
torture of two maid servants, who were styled deaconesses, 
what the truth was. I could discover nothing else than a 
vicious and extravagant superstition ; consequently, having 
adjourned the inquiry, I have had recourse to your counsels. 
Indeed, the matter seemed to me a proper one for consultation, 
chiefly on account of the number of persons imperilled. For 
many of all ages and all ranks, aye, and of both sexes, are 
being called, and will be called into danger. Nor are cities 
only permeated by the contagion of this superstition, but 
villages and country parts as well ; yet it seems possible to 
stop it and cure it. It is in truth sufficiently evident that the 
temples, which were almost entirely deserted, have begun to 
be frequented, that the customary religious rites which had 
long been interrupted are being resumed, and that there is a 
sale for the food of sacrificial beasts, for which hitherto very 
few buyers indeed could be found. From all this it is easy to 
form an opinion as to the great number of persons who may be 
reclaimed, if only room be granted for penitence." 
To this letter Trajan sent the following reply : — 
" You have followed the right mode of procedure, my dear 
Secundus, in investigating the cases of those who had been 
brought before you as Christians. For, indeed, it is not pos- 
sible to establish any universal rule, possessing as it were a 
fixed form. These people should not be searched for ; if they 
are informed against and convicted they should be punished ; 
yet, so that he who shall deny being a Christian, and shall 
make this plain in action, that is by worshipping our gods, 
even though suspected on account of his past conduct, shall 


obtain pardon by hi.s penitence. Anonymous informations, 
however, ought not to be allowed a standing in any kind of 
charge ; a course which would not only form the worst of pre- 
cedents, but which is not in accordance with the spirit of our 
time." (Pliny's Letters, x., 97, 98, translation by J. D. Lewes.) 

One is struck by the air of smug satisfaction with which 
men like Pliny and Trajan clad in a little brief authority sat 
in judgment upon and rebuked persons who were infinitely 
better than themselves. Pliny could order to the torture 
gentle deaconesses who were leading holy lives, and trying to 
help their fellow-creatures ; he could only see obstinacy and 
madness in the conduct of persons who had pledged themselves 
not to commit theft, robbery, adultery or breach of trust ; yet 
the poor miserable creature could see nothing but that which 
was estimable and wise in worshipping emperors, both dead 
and alive, in practising degrading and often abominable rites 
at the temples, and in guiding the conduct of his life by the 
steaming entrails of a newly killed beast. 

The quotation from the writings of Pliny is of special 
interest because it shows, from the standpoint of a magistrate, 
and a man who had no sympathy whatever with Christianity, 
just how that faith stood at the beginning of the second cen- 
tury. It is evident that Christians were numerous in Asia 
Minor, that they practised a morality more pure and strict 
than that of ordinary citizens, that they submitted to torture, 
that they were even ready to die for their faith. So wide- 
spread was the profession of Christianity in Bithynia at this 
time that the temples were in some places almost entii-ely 
deserted. Complaints of this state of affairs reached the new 
governor from the priests and attendants at the temple and 
from the dealers in beasts and birds used for sacrifice. Such 
was the position of the Christian Church in Bithynia sevent}^ 
years after the crucifixion, at a time when there were still 
alive various persons who had known the Apostles. 

Sixteen years after his accession Trajan made war upon 113. 
Parthia. There had been peace between Rome and Parthia 


for a good while, ever since the time when Tiridates came to 
Rome and received the crown of Armenia from the hands of 
Nero. Nor was there any reason now for war. There was 
merely a pretext. The Armenian throne had become vacant, 
and Trajan placed Axidares, a son of the former king, upon 
the throne. Chosroes, the king- of Parthia, thinking him un- 
suitable, placed his brother Parthomasiris there instead. This 
seemed a violation of the treaty made with Nero, but it could 
easily have been adjusted. Neither Parthia nor Armenia 
desired war ; they were willing to make almost any concession 
to avoid it. Parthomasiris was quite willing to go to Rome 
and swear allegiance to Trajan if he required it. 

The Romans had nothing to gain by the subjugation of 
Armenia. It was an inhospitable country. There was no 
mineral wealth worth fighting for. And in its independent 
state it was a valuable bulwark against Parthia. Tlie posses- 
sion of Armenia could only increase the difficulties of frontier 
defence. But for all this Trajan cared not a whit. He loved 
war ; he was tired of peace ; he wanted to emulate Alexander 
the Great ; he meant to carry the Roman eagles across the 

On his way east, at Athens, Trajan was met by a Parthian 
embassy pleading for peace. At Antioch another cnd)a,ssy 
appeared. But their eflbrts were fruitless. Trajan had deter- 
mined to turn Armenia into a Roman province, however short- 
sighted the policy might be. 

At Erzcroum Parthomasiris liimsclf came seeking for 
peace. Trajan treated him contemjjtuously, and told liim that 
Armenia belonged to Rome and would henceforth be ruled by 
a Roman governor. Trajan then sent him awa}- with an 
escort of Roman cavalry. Soon after tliey had left the camp 
the king was murdered by the escort. It was a foul deed and 
brands Trajan as a worthless man. No escort would have 
dared to perpetrate such a crime without his explicit instruc- 
tions. After the death of their king the Armenians niade no 
further resistance. 


From Armenia Trajan marched throucrh Mesopotamia to 
the Persian Gulf. The Parthian king fled at his approach, 
and he found the country an easy prey. Accordingly he or- 
ganised Mesopotamia as a Roman province, and returned to 
winter at Antiocli. Whilst he was there the city was partially 
destroyed by an earthquake, and he narrowly escaped with 
his life. 

Next year Trajan resumed operations in the Euphrates 116. 
valley, and captured Ctesiphon, the Parthian capital. He then 
descended the Tigris to its mouth, and would have gone farther 
but that news reached him of rebellion in his rear. Babylonia 
and Mesopotamia, the provinces which had seemed to submit 
so easily, were now in revolt. The revolts were suppressed, 
though not without difficulty. Trajan then declared Parthia 
a conquered country, and placed his nominee upon its throne. 
After these events he returned to Antioch. 

Trajan was now apprised of serious distua'bances in various 117. 
parts of the empire, in Africa, the Danubian provinces, and 
Britain. There had also been terrible disturbances in connec- 
tion with the Jews, in Cyprus, Cyrene, and Egypt, In Cyprus 
and Cyrene the Jews being in a majority had triumphed over 
their enemies ; in Egypt, where they were less numerous, they 
had been almost exterminated. 

Clearly the emperor's presence was sorely needed at head- 
quarters, and the Senate urged his immediate return. Trajan 
set out, but he never reached his capital. He had been ailing 
for some time, and at Selinus in Cilicia his illness proved fatal. 
He was sixty-five years of age when he died, and had reigned 
over nineteen years. 

It is the fashion to speak of Trajan's reign as brilliant, but 
there is little reason. He was a good administrator and 
governed honestly. Had he clung to the humdrum duties of 
civil government he might have done well. But he preferred 
war, and must needs carry fire and sword amongst peoples 
who were doing him no harm. The empire was already too 
large. It needed governing not expanding. Augastus had 


begged his successors to rest content with what they had, and 
he was wise. But Trajan thought he knew better, and added 
to its already unwieldy bulk. Little, however, came of his 
efforts. The province of Dacia was financially profitable, and 
his successors clung to it for a time. But his other conquests 
were quickly abandoned. His eastern exploits resulted in only 
one permanent addition to Roman territory, the province of 
Arabia Petrsea. 



Trajan left no children, and was well advanced in years when 117. 
he died, yet he had neither adopted a colleague in the empire, 
nor plainly indicated a successor. He had with him, however, 
in the East a young relative, Publius iElius Hadrianus, to 
whom he had shown favour, and whom he would probably 
have adopted had not death prevented. 

When Trajan's serious illness and the disquieting news 
which reached him about revolts in various parts of the 
empire compelled him to turn westward, he left Hadrian in 
command of the forces in the East. 

Plotina, the wife of Trajan, was with him when he was on 
his death-bed, and professed that he had signed, or at least 
assented to, a letter of adoption. This she sent to Hadrian, 
and he received it two days before he received the news of 
Trajan's death. Whether the letter was genuine or not, all felt 
that Hadrian was the only possible successor. Accordingly, as 
soon as it was known that Trajan was dead the soldiers pro- 
claimed Hadrian emperor. Hadrian then wrote a diplomatic- 
ally worded letter to the Senate asking for their approval, 
and regretting the precipitate action of the soldiers in acknow- 
ledging him as emperor before his election by the Senate. 
The letter produced an excellent impression, and Hadrian 
became emperor by common consent. 

The new emperor was born at Rome 76 a.d., and was there- 
fore forty-one years of age. He had been a soldier from boy- 
hood, and had also filled important offices of state. 

Like many of the world's best soldiers Hadrian was not 
fond of war. He took therefore Augustus as his example 



rather than Trajan, and preferred tlie victories of diplomacy to 
the victories of arms. 

His first acts showed tliat he considered Trajan's aggres- 
sive poHcy a mistake. He made peace with Parthia and 
Armenia, relinquished all conquests beyond the Euphrates, and 
allowed Armenia to resume her former position of qualified in- 
dependence. Arabia Petrsea was retained, and Dacia ; the 
former because it was a valuable protection to commerce, the 
latter because there were so many Roman colonists in the 
province that it could not well be abandoned. 

Hadrian did not at once return to the capital. Eastern 
affairs took some time to settle, and it seems likely that he 
visited Palestine and Egypt to expedite ihe suppression of the 
118. Jewish revolts there. Travelling thence by way of Illyricum, 
he reached Rome early in the following year. After his arrival 
Rome saw the strange spectacle of a triumph for a dead em- 
peror, the body of Trajan being carried in a triumphal car. 

Before Hadrian had been long in Rome, he had again to 
leave in consequence of the invasion of the Danubian provinces 
by the Sarmatians, tribes occupying districts in Southern 

During his absence a conspiracy was planned to dethrone 
him. Some eminent men were implicated, and Hadrian left 
Marcius Turbo to deal with the Sarmatians and hurried back 
to Rome. When he arrived he found that the Senate had 
already crushed the conspiracy and executed the conspirators. 

Hadrian reigned for twenty-one years and spent only 
seven years in Rome. During the rest of the time he was 
travelling about the provinces. No considerable part of the 
empire was left unvisited and many parts were visited twice. 
There are extant medals struck in commemoration of visits to 
twenty-five difierent countries. 

The emperor doubtless enjoyed sight-seeing. " He looked 
into the crater of Etna, saw the sun rise from Mount Cascus, 
ascended to the cataracts of the Nile, heard the statue of 
Memnon." But Hadrian's travels had a higher purpose than 


that of mere sight-seeing. He devoted himself to the con- 
solidation of his vast dominions. His sharp eye and trained 
judgment detected misgovernment where it existed, and the 
provinces were never better looked after than during his reign. 
He may not have been a genius like Juliu.^ Caesar and Augus- 
tus, but he realised that the prosperity of his subjects, and 
not foreign conquest, was his first business. War he avoided 
wherever possible. Imperial expansion and military glory 
were with Hadrian only means to an end. 

Acting upon these principles Hadrian refrained from any 
further extension of the empire, and confined his attention to 
the strengthening of the existing frontiers. When the Sarma- 
tians had been driven back by Turbo, Hadrian constructed im- 
portant lines of fortification in order to make invasion in that 
corner of the empire harder in future. It is said that he 
partially destroyed the bridge which Trajan had built across the 
Danube at Turnu Severin. This may, however, only mean that 
he cut off one end of it and transformed it into a draw-bridge. 

In scheming his fortifications on the frontier Hadrian 
added to the natural defence of water the artificial defences of 
embankments, ditches, and stone walls. He also encouraged 
the development of frontier towns. The villages chosen for 
camps often became commercial centres. As the presence of 
the garrison both encouraged and protected trade, merchants 
settled in the villages, and veteran soldiers when their time was 
up, also settled there with their families. Thus the camp be- 
came a town, and perhaps the town a city. Several of the 
Roman stations still exist, and have become important cities. 

Hadrian was an indefatigable army reformer. The phalanx 
made so famous by the Greeks and Macedonians was substi- 
tuted in an improved form for the old Roman battle array. 
Various changes were made both in tactics and in armour. 
Heavy cavalry was introduced and improvements were made 
in the military engines which accompanied the armies. Dis- 
cipline was strictly maintained, but the soldiers were treated 

kindly and there were no mutinies. 
VOL. II. 9 


121. Hadrian's travels into the provinces in his capacity as 
emperor began with a visit to Gaul. From Gaul he went to 

122. Germany and thence to Britain. There had been satisfactory 
progress in the island province, though it was now causing 
some anxiety. About fifty towns had been established in 
Southern Britain, and the inhabitants of the province were 
prosperous and contented. But this very prosperity made 
them less warlike, and more envied by their neighbours, and 
the northern tribes raided the province from time to time. To 
check their raids, Hadrian began a wall from Bowness on the 
Solway by way of Burgh on Sands, Carlisle, Gilsland, House- 
steads, Chesters, and Newcastle to Wallsend near the mouth of 
the Tyne. 

The wall was about seventy miles long and had fortified 
stations at about every fourth mile. The fortification was in 
three parts, a stone wall facing north, an earth wall facing 
south and a road between. The stone wall was about 7 feet 
broad by 20 high. The earth wall consisted of a mound, a 
ditch, and a double mound. Remnants of the fortification 
are yet to be seen, particularly at Housesteads (Borcovicium), 
where there is a continuous stretch of walling. The fortifica- 
tion was the work of several emperors, indeed it is likely 
that the stone wall was built eighty years after by Septimius 
Severus. But the work was designed by Hadrian, and it has 
always been associated with his name. 

The British wall was not only serviceable as a frontier bar- 
rier, but also as an elongated camp in an enemy's country. 
There were unsubdued tribes south as well as north of the 
wall, and it prevented co-operation between them. 

Hadrian was a man of culture, and, partly for this reason 
no doubt, showed much favour to Greece, He adorned many 
cities with new buildings, and tried to make Athens once more 
a power in Greece. He helped the city financially and it 
flourished for a time. Hadrian visited Greece twice, making a 
prolonged stay on each occasion. 

Hadrian also visited Africa and travelled very carefully 


through the Asiatic provinces of the empire. The inhabitants 
of Antioch insulted him in some way and he was much dis- 
pleased. The city was specially immoral and luxurious. 

During Hadrian's reign a terrible rebellion broke out in 
Judaea. The Jews, notwithstanding the miseries to which they 
had been subjected in the reign of Vespasian, were still numer- 
ous. In the end of Trajan's reig"n Hadrian had been employed 
by him to suppress Jewish rebellion and had done it with 
wholesale slaughter. When he ascended the throne he de- 
termined to root out what he thought the Jewish superstition 
altogether. Accordingly he prohibited circumcision, the ob- 
.servance of the Sabbath, and the reading of the law. He also 
threatened to convert Jerusalem, which with marvellous vitality 
was again lifting its head above the ground, into a Roman 

The Jews bore patiently with Hadrian's tyranny for a 131. 
time, but at last rose upon their oppressors. Believing that a 
man named Bar-Cocaba (Son of the Star) was their promised de- 
liverer, they rallied to his standard, captured the site of Jerusa- 
lem, and for a time carried their arms victoriously throughout 
Judaea. Hadrian himself visited the scene of action, but put 
the conduct of the war into the hands of Julius Severus. The 
war lingered on for three years, but was at length crushed with 
more than usual barbarity. Bar-Cocaba was slain in battle, the 
Rabbi Akiba, an old man who had championed his cause, was 
flayed alive, Jerusalem was again levelled with the ground, and 
Palestine was turned into a wilderness. 

The emperor now carried his threat concerning Jerusalem 
into effect, he settled a colony in the city under the name of 
^lia Capitolina, and erected a temple to Jupiter Capitohnus 
on the site of the Holy Place. Jews were forbidden to enter 
the city on pain of death, and to make them less inclined a 
swine in marble was set over the gate leading to Bethlehem. 
In this war about 1,000 towns and villages and 600,000 men 
were destroyed. This brutal treatment of the Jewish race is 
an ugly blot upon Hadi'ian's memory. 


Our last chapter contained a correspondence between Pliny 
and Ti-ajan concerning the persecution of the Christians. This 
persecution went on under Hadrian and even increased. We 
cannot, however, make Hadrian personally responsible for the 
persecution. Governors of provinces sometimes persecuted 
for the sake of pleasing the heathen priests, and looked on 
with indifference when mob violence was perpetrated in 
order that they might not incur unpopularity with the people. 
It must be said to Hadrian's credit that when he was passing 
through Greece he permitted two learned Christians of Athens, 
Quadratus and Aristides, to present to him defences of the 
Christian Faith. As a result he issued an imperial order for- 
bidding mobs to assemble against the Christians. 

Fragments remain of the Apology of Quadratus. In one 
the following words occur : " Our Saviour's works were real. 
The sick whom he healed, the dead whom he raised, were 
constantly to be seen, not only during his sojourn on earth, 
but long after his departure, so that some of them have sur- 
vived even down to our own times." 

The Apology of Aristides was believed to be lost, but a 
part of it has been lately recovered. 

Hadrian organised the civil service in a way never before 
attempted. The old and pernicious system of tax-farming, 
which had gradually been dying out, was now almost entirely 
abolished. A financial bureau was established, with a minister 
of finance at the head of it. The taxes were levied with some 
regard for equity, and Hadrian ordered that the valuation of 
property, which formed the basis of taxation, should be revised 
every fifteen years. 

A consultant body, the consiliarii Augusti was formed. 
This privy council consisted of skilled men, mostly jurists, who 
received salaries, and were ready to advise the emperor on 
all occasions when he required their services. This gave the 
emperor's advisers an official position, and he need no longer 
be accused of having favourites. 

Hadrian's reign forms somewhat of an epoch in juris- 


prudence. For two centuries Rome had been famous for its 
jurists. Augustus encourao^ed the profession, and gave certain 
of the leading men a semi-official position. Interpretations of 
the law given by the king's counsel, if we may so term them, 
were to a certain extent looked upon as if given under Imperial 
sanction. Hadrian went farther than Augustus. He gave to 
the decisions of the select jui'ists the force of law if they were 
all in agreement. If the jurists consulted by the judge dis- 
agreed, he might make his choice. To appreciate the point of 
this we must remember that the Roman judex was not like 
the modern judge necessarily a skilled jurist. This imperial 
patronage gave a status to the profession, and induced able 
men to enter it. It also led to the growth of a mass of legal 
decisions, real and hypothetical, which were afterwards col- 
lected by Justinian, and have been of the greatest importance 
in moulding European law. 

The praetors in Rome had a habit of issuing on their 
election edicts stating the rules by which they meant to regu- 
late their decisions during their term of office. These edicts 
were generally merely a repetition of former edicts, with such 
additions or amendments as might to them seem desirable. 
The edict had become cumbrous, and the system introduced un- 
certainty into commercial transactions. Hadrian accordingly 
employed an eminent jurist named Salvius Julianus to edit a 
general edict, which should be a rule and guide to all succeed- 
ing praetors. It was called the edictum perjjetaum, and a 
senatus considtum gave it the force of law. After this, i3l. 
magistrates might only use their own discretion when there 
was nothing in the edict to meet the particular case. 

The legislation of Trajan with regard to the unprotected 
classes had been retrogressive, and Hadrian reversed some of 
it. He punished masters and mistresses for cruelty to slaves, 
forbade the sale of slaves for immoral purposes, and revived 
an old law which prohibited a master from killing a slave, and 
compelled him to hand him over for trial before the court. 

Hadrian was an enterprising builder. He restored temples 


in Rome, constructed a new bridge across the Tiber, and began 
the imposing mausoleum, called Hadrian's tomb, now known as 
the Castle of St. Angelo. It was completed by his successor, 
and was for some time the burying-place of the emperors. At 
Tibur the emperor erected the magnificent villa which is still a 
place of popular resort. 

In his later years Hadrian's health failed. It was a dis- 
appointment to him to know that, notwithstanding a life-time 
of earnest work, he was popular neither with the people nor 
with the aristocracy. Notwithstanding this he was a useful 
monarch, and the empire was well governed during his reign. 
But for certain actions, and especially for his brutality towards 
the Jews, he would deserve a very high place among Roman 

136. Hadrian had adopted a man named iElius Verus as his 

successor. Verus was unworthy of the position, and the 
adoption was an unpopular act. Fortunately, he died before 
Hadrian. The emperor then adopted Titus Antoninus, a man 
of consular rank, fifty-two years of age ; and of an excellent 

138. disposition. A few months after the adoption of Antoninus, 
Hadrian died. His important reign had lasted nearly twenty- 
one years. 



Titus Aurelius Fulvus Boionius Antoninus (Antoninus 138. 
Pius) now ascended the throne. He had not been eager for the 
dignity, for when Hadrian, who was only ten years his senior, 
offered to adopt him, he took a month to consider whether he 
should accept the honour or not. Fortunately for Rome he did 
accept it, for he was one of the best of her emperors. 

As Antoninus was himself also childless, Hadrian required 
that he should nominate two heirs, Marcus, the nephew of 
Antoninus himself, better known as Marcus Aurelius, and 
Lucius Verus, son of that ^lius Verus who had so lately died. 

At the accession of Antoninus, Marcus Aurelius was seven- 
teen years of age, whilst Verus was a child of eight. Some 
years after Marcus Aurelius married Faustina, the niece of 
^lius Verus, and was admitted by Antoninus as consort, being 147. 
then about twenty-five. He also received the title of Caesar, 
and was presumptive successor. He was not entrusted for 
some time however with much active share in the adminis- 
tration. Lucius Verus, on the other hand, did not receive these 
public acknowledgments, and it seems clear that Antoninus did 
not mean that the supreme power should be divided, Marcus 
was meant to be the successor, but should he die, Verus would 
be chosen. 

Antoninus reigned for twenty-three years, and so well that 
there is little to record concerning his reign. The empire had 
rest. There were wars on the frontier, but not wars of much 
consequence. Hadrian's skilful policy followed by the peace- 
ful attitude taken up by Antoninus secured a period of quiet. 

In Britain only was there any serious trouble. The north- 



ern tribes rebelled but were reduced by the prefect Lollius 
Urbius, To check the incursions of the Caledonians a ram- 
part was constructed from the Clyde to the Forth. Agricola 
had attempted this some years before. It was now done thor- 
oughly. The rampart consisted of a ditch forty feet wide and 
twenty feet deep, and an earth wall. On the south side of 
the ditch ran a military road, and there were ten entrenched 
camps. Portions of the rampart still exist, known as Graham's 

This formidable rampart was originally about thirty-seven 
miles long. It extended from Carriden on the Forth to 
West Kilpatrick on the Clyde. Like Hadrian's wall between 
the Sol way and the Tyne it served a double purpose. It kept 
back the outer barbarians and made the inner barbarians more 
peaceful. As a result the district between the walls was soon 
filled with colonists and became prosperous. 

Hadrian had travelled in the provinces so continuously that 
he had been unpopular in Rome. Antoninus went to the other 
extreme, for he only left Italy once during his reign. But the 
provinces were not neglected. He endeavoured to prevent 
oppression in tax-collecting, and encouraged long periods of 
office so that provincial governors might better understand their 
work and more fully identify themselves with the people whom 
they governed. 

By avoiding fresh conquest, wastefulness in public displays, 
and extravagance at Court, Antoninus was able to reduce 
taxation, deal generously with the people, and leave a magnifi- 
cent balance in the treasury at his death. 

In the field of legislation and jurisprudence Antoninus laid 
the foundation for much excellent work. The able men 
amongst the Romans, deprived of the sphere for the exercise of 
mental energy which a modern finds in parliamentary duties, 
devoted much of their time to the study of legal subtleties 
with results which still benefit the civilised world. Roman 
law is the most abiding monument of the Roman Empire. 

Augustus had greatly encouraged legal stud}'-, and Hadrian, 


acting under the advice of the jurists of his time, and especi- 
ally of Salvius Julianus, the most eminent, had, by the draw- 
ing up of the edictiim, perpetuum and the extension of the 
jus respondendi, further systematised legal procedure. 

Antoninus proceeded further in the same direction. He 
appointed Salvius Julianus to be prefect of the city, and gave 
other eminent men much encouragement. By this wise action 
he substantially helped forward the golden age of Roman 
jurisprudence which is generally placed in the beginning of the 
third century. 

The Institutes of Gaius were written in this reign, and 
published perhaps the very year in which Antoninus died. On 
this work nearly four centuries later Justinian based his Insti- 
tutes, but, though this was known, no copy of the writings of 
Gaius had ever been found. At last, in 1816, Niebuhr, a 
German specialist, discovered in the library of Verona a 
palimpsest. On careful investigation he found that a parch- 
ment with the Institutes of Gaius had been scraped and the 
letters of St. Jerome written above. With the aid of chemicals 
and the microscope St. Jerome was removed and Gaius stood 
revealed. Some of it could not be deciphered, but enough was 
found to greatly widen our knowledge of Roman law. 

Antoninus was no mere patron of lawyers, he was himself 
a legislator of merit. He alleviated the condition of slaves, 
greatly circumscribed the use of torture in examination, and 
laid down the principle, now universally accepted, even if 
somewhat indifferently acted upon, that every accused person 
should be deemed innocent until he has been proved guilty. 

Antoninus also laid special stress upon the consideration of 
equitable principles as well as legal rules. To use his own 
words : — 

" Etsi nihil facile mutandum est ex sollemnibus tamen ubi 
sequitas evidens poscit, subviendum est ". Which we may 
translate: "Although customary rules are not to be lightly 
set aside, yet when equity clearly demands it they must be " 
(Dig. iv., 1, 7). 


The emperor was a religious man and zealous for the 
national faith. But his zeal did not incline him to persecute 
others, and when he heard that the populace in certain cities 
were harrying the Christians, he issued rescripts ordering that 
the outrages should be repressed, 

Justin Martyr's first Apology for the Christian faith was 
addressed to Antoninus at Rome about 148 a.d. Afterwards 
Justin inscribed a second Apology, a sort of appendix to the 

Justin appeals on behalf of the men who are hated and 
reviled by the whole human race. He demands that they 
should not be condemned unheard, but that the charges 
against them should be investigated. If they can be sub- 
stantiated let punishment be awarded ; but if no one can con- 
vict the Christians of any crime, then true reason forbids that 
the emperor, on account of a wicked rumour, should wrong 
blameless men, or rather wrong himself, which he would do if 
he decided not by judgment but by passion. He concludes by 
saying; "If these things seem to you to be reasonable and 
true, honour them ; but if nonsensical, despise them as non- 
sense ; only do not decree death against those who have done 
no wrong. For we forewarn you that if you continue in the 
course of injustice, you cannot escape the impending judgment 
of God." 

We cannot say whether Justin's efforts produced any eflfect 
on Antoninus, or suggested his action in favour of the 
Christians. But we thankfully acknowledge that the emperor 
was mild and tolerant towards them, and protected them from 
the violence of the mob. Such, indeed, was -his reputation 
among the Christians for toleration that some even looked 
upon him as favourable to their creed. 

Marcus Aurelius, in his Meditations, gives a picture of 
Antoninus which we may produce, translating freely : — 

" He was meek, constant, free from vanity, assiduous, 
accessible to all, impartial, and moderate. He examined 
accurately into affairs, and heard the opinions of others with 


patience. He avoided favouritism, yet was careful never to 
neglect his friends. He had a contented mind and a cheerful 
countenance. He disliked flattery, and adhered strictly to 
economy, even though some accused him of meanness. He 
was of mature mind and sound judgment, able to govern both 
himself and others." 

From all that we know of Antoninus Pius we believe this 
judgment to be just. He lived a singularly blameless life, and 
ruled the Roman world with discretion. Rome had greater 
emperors than Antoninus Pius, but no emperor more worthy 
of our esteem. 

Antoninus died in his villa at Lorium in the seventy-fourth 161, 
year of his age, having reigned for twenty-three years. 



161, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus was born at Rome 121 a.d., and 
was, therefore, forty years of age when he ascended the throne. 
No Roman emperor has been handed down to posterity with 
greater encomiums. This makes it less easy to deal with his 
memory in the present instance. Perceiving with what bias 
ancient historians write we have endeavoured to judge every 
man by his works, and we think the principle just. But if we 
apply it in the present instance we shall find ourselves greatly 
out of harmony with the prevailing sentiment. 

The reign of Marcus Aurelius was an unhappy one for 
Rome. In it for the first time the symptoms of imperial 
decline are unmistakably seen. We cannot blame Marcus 
Aurelius for this, for the disease that killed Rome was one of 
long standing. If it came to the surface in his reign he can- 
not be held responsible. Yet he did nothing to check the 
disease and some things to make it more desperate. 

Apart, however, from this aspect of the case, we can see 
little to praise in this emperor. He was a bad financier, a 
feeble general, and, there is much reason to believe, a cruel 
man. Why, then, has posterity so lauded him ? Partly at 
least because he was a philosopher and left behind him an 
interesting book of meditations which present him in a some- 
what favourable light. 

With the emperor as a philosopher we are not concerned. 

He may have been an excellent one. But history has shown 

that good philosophers may be bad kings, and that philosophers 

can be as cruel as other men. Whatever, therefore, the merits 

of Marcus Aurelius may be in this respect they should not in- 



fluence our judgment concerning his reign. A king must be 
judged by his deeds. Thus judged we find little in the reign 
of Marcus Aurelius deserving of esteem, far less of fulsome 

Antoninus Pius had by the command of Hadrian adopted 
two heirs, Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus. He made the 
former his colleague and showed b}^ this and by his death-bed 
instructions that it was his desire that he should be his suc- 
cessor. Accordingly the succession took place with general 

Marcus began his career with an action which was good- 
natured but dangerous. He requested the senate to confer 
upon his adoptive brother, Lucius Verus, equal rights and 
privileges with himself. This was an innovation. It had been 
common enough for an emperor to have a consort with sub- 
ordinate powers and a lien upon the succession. Marcus 
AureHus had been such an one himself. But the joint rule 
of two equal emperors was a different matter. Fortunately in 
the present instance it made little difference, for Lucius was 
easy going and let Marcus govern. Moreover he did not live 
very long. 

The attitude of the emperor towards the Senate was satis- 
factory. He refused to bind himself as his predecessors had 
done never to condemn a senator to death. He also used his 
power of election to the Senate freely. But he showed the 
senators deference and laid important matters before them. 
Thus even if he did not take their advice he gratified them by 
letting them know what was going on. His treatment of the 
senate had probably much to do with the favour shown him 
by historians of the period. 

Marcus improved the civil service by the introduction of 
under-secretaries in the various departments. He curtailed 
the freedom of municipalities, but he gave greater freedom to 
public associations, thus reversing the suspicious attitude of 

As a financier the emperor was a failure. Antoninus Pius 


had been extremely careful, and had thus been able not only 
to carry out important public works and reduce taxation, but 
to leave a balance of £21,000,000 in the treasury when he died. 
Marcus praises his carefulness in words already quoted, yet he 
did not follow in his footsteps for a single hour. He was 
lavish and imprudent from the beginning. Following the 
example of the worst class of emperors he began his reign by 
giving huge gifts to the soldiers. Each soldier of the Praetorian 
guard received £160, and the other soldiers in proportion. He 
also bestowed much largess upon the Roman people and in- 
creased the number of those who were entitled to receive doles 
of food. In this way he obtained a fleeting popularity, but 
his action was unjust to the taxpayers throughout the em- 
pire and injurious to the character of the already sufficiently 
pauperised inhabitants of Rome. 

In these foolish ways the treasure left by Antoninus was 
speedily dissipated. The consequences were serious, for in the 
reign of Marcus Aurelius the peace which had characterised 
the empire during the days of Hadrian and Antoninus came to 
a sudden end, and the empire had not only to face war in the 
East but also the most formidable attack from the barbarian 
tribes that it had yet encountered. 

Moreover, during this reign a terrible pestilence afflicted the 
empire. Had Marcus been the most prudent of financiers he 
would have found his task hard. As things were, the imperial 
finance collapsed. The crown jewels were pawned, the gold 
coinage was depreciated until it went out of circulation, and 
even the silver coinage was called in that it might be reissued 
in depreciated form. 

Shortly after the accession of Marcus Aurelius war broke 
out with Parthia. The Parthian king, Vologeses, an able man, 
who had again united the Parthian realm, endeavoured to 
regain the ascendency in Armenia which Parthia had lost, and 
presumed to set Pacorus, his nominee, upon the throne. The 
matter could probably have been adjusted by negotiation as it 
had been before, but Severianus, the governor of Cappadocia, 


acted with undue precipitation, crossed the Euphrates and 
invaded Parthia. Even had war been desirable his Ibrces were 
inadequate ; they were annihilated and he slew himself. The 
Parthians, elated by their victory, carried the war into Roman 
territory, invaded Syria and again defeated the Roman forces. 

The matter was now serious and Verus, the joint emperor, 
proceeded to the East with reinforcements and undertook the 162, 
conduct of the war. Being, however, destitute of military 
talent, he wisely remained at Antioch enjoying himself whilst 
his officers did the work. Of these the leaders were Priscus 
Verus and Avidius Cassius. 

Priscus Verus recovered Armenia and placed a Roman 
nominee upon the throne instead of Pacorus. Avidius Cassius, 
who became governor of Syria, invaded Mesopotamia and 
carried the Roman arms as far as Media. Seleucia and Ctesi- 
phon were destroyed. 

Thus the Parthian war ended, successful from a military 
point of view, but carrying with it dire results of which 
no one could have dreamt. There was at the time of the 
war a virulent plague in the Euphrates Valley, and the 
Roman armies brought it with them to Europe. Wherever 
they marched the infection spread. Those were the days of 
Galen, so celebrated as a physician, and he left a description of 
the symptoms. " Pustules," he says, " appeared upon the body, 
accompanied by inward heat and putrid breath, with hoarse- 
ness and cough. If the imposthumes broke there was a chance 
of recovery, if not, the patient was certain to die." The 
ravages of this plague have been compared to those of the 
Black Death in the fourteenth century. Italy especially 
suffered. In Rome immense numbers died. In the rural 
districts towns were left almost without inhabitant. Niebuhr 
has said that the ancient world never recovered from the blow 
thus inflicted upon it, and there can be no doubt that it had 
far-reaching results. 

Scarcely had the joint-emperors enjoyed their triumph for 
success in the Parthian War than war broke out on the Euro- 166, 


pean frontiers of the empire. The war arose out of a vast 
tribal invasion in which many tribes took part. Of these the 
Marcomanni and the Quadi were the most prominent. The 
tribes broke into the Danubian provinces and overran Dacia, 
Pannonia, Raetia, and Noricum. Nay, more, they did that 
which no barbarian tribes had presumed to do for two cen- 
turies, they invaded the sacred soil of Italy itself, crossing the 
Julian Alps and laying siege to Aquileia. 

The barbarians were doubtless encouraged to greater effron- 
tery from the fact that a portion of the army of the Danube 
had been withdrawn for the Parthian War. It is probable, 
however, that the invasion did not proceed primarily from the 
deliberate action of the frontier tribes, but that they were 
forced across by the tribes behind them. It was, in fact, the 
first of a series of movements destined in the end to change 
the whole character of the Roman empire. 

168. Both emperors went to the front. As they advanced the 
invaders retreated and would have been glad of peace. A 
Roman camp was formed at Aquileia, but the plague con- 
tinued to be so virulent, and the legions were so thinned by 
sickness and death, that it was not easy to keep a fighting 
force in the field. It is interesting to know that Galen was 
consulted about the health of the camp, but at such a time he 
could do little. 

169. Verus died and Marcus had to carry on the war alone. It 
lasted with slight intermissions until his own death eleven 
years later. For some time the Romans had no success, but 
gradually the tide turned. Marcus made terms with certain 
of the tribes and persuaded them to fight the others. This 
method of meeting the barbarian difiiculty became popular 
with the Roman government in later years. 

In the end the integrity of the frontier was maintained, 
but the exhausting effects of the combination of war and pes- 
tilence were long felt in the empire. Perhaps the most im- 
portant result of the war was that from it dates the policy of 
transplanting barbarians to the Roman side of the frontier. 


Marcus endeavoured to settle the question in this way. He 
made settlements in Pannonia, Moesia and Dacia. He even 
endeavoured to establish a barbarian colony near Ravenna, 
but it did not succeed as the colonists endeavoured to seize the 
city itself. Elsewhere, however, the arrangement was per- 
manent. Whole tribes were granted lands in the frontier 
provinces, the colonists being bound to perform military 

The policy of transplanting had in the end disastrous 
results so far as the integrity of the empire was concerned, for 
it was destroyed quite as much by sympathisers with invaders 
inside the empire as by the invaders themselves. But though 
the filling up of vacant places with Teutonic tribes may have 
ruined the empire, we cannot contend that it was not for the 
ultimate good of mankind. And had there been less selfishness 
and more foresight in high places, the policy of transplanting 
need not have been injurious even to the empire itself. 

Whilst Marcus was engaged on the Danubian frontier, 
there was a serious revolt in Syria. Avidius Cassius, the 
general who had been so successful against the Parthians, was 
governor there. The reign of Marcus had not been so success- 
ful as to inspire much loyalty, and there was a general impres- 
sion that he was better at philosophy than at government. A 
rumour reached the troops that he was dead, so they pro- 
claimed their general Cassius emperor in his stead. But when 
the rumour of his death was contradicted, and it was known 
that he was on his way to the East, the soldiers, not very 
keen on the business, murdered Cassius. Marcus treated the 
other conspirators with lenity, and so the rebellion was at an 

When the emperor returned to Rome he found that war 

had broken out again on the Danube, and he had to go thither. 

This time he was accompanied by his son Commodus. We 

have few details of the war, but Marcus seems to have been 

successful on the whole. Whilst it was yet in progress the 

emperor died at Vindobona, whereupon Commodus at once 
VOL. II. 10 


180. granted favourable terms to the Marcommani and the QuadI 
and returned to Rome. 

During the reign of Marcus Aurelius the Christians were 
bitterly persecuted. Since the days of Nero they had enjoyed 
a certain amount of rest. Vespasian had not persecuted. 
Domitian persecuted to a certain extent. Nerva was kind. 
Trajan said, somewhat illogically, that Christians need not be 
sought out, but that if informations were laid against them 
they must be punished. In the beginning of Hadrian's reign 
there was persecution, but when his attention was called to it 
he forbade it, and it ceased. When Antoninus Pius heard 
that the Christians were being hunted down in certain parts 
of the empire he at once checked the persecution. We have 
said that he may have been influenced in his benevolent action 
by Justin's Apology. At Rome Justin addressed his first 
Apology to the emperor about 148 a.d. Afterwards, perhaps 
in 161, he inscribed a second Apology to Marcus Aurelius. 
It is highly probable that the emperor was acquainted 
with the contents of these Apologies. Yet, reversing the 
policy of Antoninus, his adoptive father, he allowed the 
Christians to be persecuted during his reign without let or 

The persecution was worse than anything that had gone 
before. Nero's persecution was probably limited to Rome, 
that during the reign of Marcus Aurelius was carried through- 
out the empire. Moreover, whereas formerly persecution had 
been largely the work of the ignorant mob, local governors 
and judges now took it up ofiicially. Disregarding Trajan's 
rule that Christians should not be sought out, they instigated 
informations and examined witnesses by torture in order to 
obtain evidence against their victims. 

Some contend on behalf of Marcus Aurelius that he may 
have been ignorant of what was going on. Even this would 
l^ve been reprehensible, and would have demonstrated his 
uniitness for the imperial position. But the supposition is 
inconsistent with facts. His own writings show that he knew 


about the Christians, and he issued rescripts upon the subject 
of the persecution. 

Nor was the emperor misled by the wild charo-es made 
by the vulgar against the Christians. Those charges received 
no official sanction. The Christians were officially accused of" 
refusing to worship the national gods and of nothing more. 
The gods that were good enough for an emperor and a 
philosopher should have been good enough for them. It was 
" obstinacy," that was all. 

Accordingly, during this reign, no effort was made to check 
the passions of the mob or the yet more deadly hatred of the 
official. Nor was the emperor's position merely passive. In 
177 A.D. he issued a rescript providing for the punishment of 
new sects, and when there was some doubt as to how in certain 
cases Christians should be dealt with, Marcus Aurelius in a 
second rescript ordered that those who denied the faith should 
be set free, and that those who confessed it should be beaten 
to death. "This did not apply to Roman citizens over whom 
a governor had not power of life and death" (Bury, Roman 
Empire, p. 580). 

Many Christians of both sexes were tortured and put to 
death in this reign, the persecution extending over almost the 
whole area of the empire. Among those who suffered was 
Justin, surnamed the Martyr, of whose efforts to defend the 
Christians we have spoken. He was a Samaritan, born at 
Nablus, the ancient Shechem. The martyrdom took place 
165 A.D., about four years after the presentation of the second 
Apology. He was beheaded at Rome. 

In Asia Minor the persecution raged violently. Amongst 
many martyrs the aged Polycarp stands prominent. He had 
known the Apostle John personally, and may have been 
appointed by him to the see in Smyrna. He may even have 
been the Angel of the Church at Smyrna referred to in the 
Apocalypse. " Revile Christ," urged the proconsul, " and I 
will set thee at liberty," 

" Revile Christ ! " answered Polycarp. " Eighty and six 


years have I served him, and he never did me wrong ; how 
can I revile him, my King, my Saviour ? " 

In Gaul also the storm of persecution was severe, especially 
in the cities of Lyons and Vienne. There was no regard of 
age and sex. The leading members of the Churches were 
apprehended, and the most cruel tortures were used, even 
upon delicate women. A few drew back, the great majority 
endured suffering and met death with constancy. 

Amongst the sufferers was Pothinus, Bishop of Lyons. He 
was ninety years of age, and might well have been spared. 
Yet he was dragged about, and beaten and kicked to death. 

Attains, a Roman citizen, was placed in an iron chair at 
the games and. roasted to death. 

Blandina, a woman, was subjected to unheard-of torture, 
and at last was enclosed in a net and gored by a bull. Re- 
peatedly tossed, yet still living, she was despatched with the 

All these horrors were perpetrated during the reign of 
" the wise, the virtuous, the much-suffering Aurelius," whom 
an eminent historian. Dean Merivale, has ventured to compare 
with our great and good King Alfred. 

There is a common saying that the best kings have been 
the worst persecutors. May it not rather be that the worst 
persecutors have been handed down to posterity as the best 
kings ? Until comparatively modern times the writing of 
history was in the hands of the official and ecclesiastical 
classes, who believed in the repression of all who would not 
conform to the worship prescribed by the State, and who 
doubtless considered the attitude of Marcus Aurelius towards 
Christianity all that could be desired. 



L. Ann^us Seneca, the famous philosopher, was born at 3 a.d. 
Corduba, in Spain. He was brought to Rome as a child and 
educated there. Afterwards he became an ardent rhetorician 
and philosopher, professing Stoicism, 

Seneca was banished to Corsica by Claudius, but was after- 41. 
wards recalled through the influence of Agrippina, who was 
now married to the emperor. He was made tutor to Nero, her 
son by a former husband, and he had a great influence over 
Nero during the early years of his reign. 

Though he owed his recall and his position to Agrippina, he 60. 
cUd all he could to rob her of her son's aflfections, he was a 
party to her murder, and he wrote a letter to the Senate to 
justify it. There is too much reason to beheve that he en- 
couraged Nero in profligacy in order to undermine his mother's 
influence. Some writers pretend that Seneca was Nero's 
victim, but seeing that Seneca was more than fifty years of age 
when Nero became emperor, and that Nero was then a mere 
stripHng, this is absurd. 

Seneca used his position at court to enable him to amass 
vast wealth. He was a moneylender of the worst type, and 
one of the saddest rebeUions in Britain, that which ended in 
the death of Queen Boadicea, is said to have been in great 
measure the result of his extortions. At length he lost liis 
position at court and retired, but being involved in the con- 
spiracy of Piso, he was ordered to commit suicide. 

Seneca was neither a good man nor a great man, but he 

was a voluminous writer and a man of much mental power. 

Of liis works which are extant the most important are twelve 



books of philosophical dialogues, discoursing on anger, pro- 
vidence, the brevity of life and such matters. Two of the 
books discourse on clemency. They were written after Nero's 
accession, and it is from one of these that the famous anecdote 
is taken about Nero's wish that he could neither read nor write 
in order that he might not have to sign a warrant for execution. 
Seneca's writings show that his knowledge extended over 
a wide area. But he was neither original nor profound, and 
probably wrote rather for political influence than for literary 
reputation. He said some good things, however. " God dwells 
in the soul of the slave as well as in that of the knight," and 
"The wise man receives neither injury nor insult," may be 
mentioned as examples. The sayings are neither very deep 
nor very original, but the truths are clearly expressed. 

23. C. Plinius Secundus (Pliny the Elder) was born at Como. 
He came of a wealthy family, was well educated, and filled im- 
portant public offices. He had travelled widely and served 
both in the army and navy. At the time of his death he was 
admiral of the fleet which lay at Misenum, in the Bay of Naples. 

Pliny the Elder was an indefatigable student, and had a 
habit of taking notes upon every subject that interested him. 
He left a mass of undigested notes behind him when he died. 

The only work of his which has come down to us is a 
natural history. This title in those days covered a wider area 
than it would now. The work, which is dedicated to Titus 
and is in thirty-six books, deals with astronomy, botany, 
geography, mineralogy, physics and zoology. Some one has 
said that it touches upon 20,000 matters of importance, and 
draws its materials from 2,000 volumes. It is, however, merely 
an accumulation of matter in which the true and the false are 
so intermingled that it is void of scientific value. Pliny also 
wrote a history of the German wars, a grammatical treatise, 
and various other books. 

He died at Vesuvius, 79 A.D., and the manner of his death 
is described in a letter from Pliny, his nephew, to Tacitus. We 


have already referred to this in tlie chapter which deals with 
the reign of Titus. 

C. SiLius Italicus was a lawyer, and filled various public 25. 
offices. He was consul in the year in which Nero perished, 
and was afterwards pro-consul of Asia. When seventy-five 
years of age he was smitten by an incurable disease, and 
suffered so much that he starved himself to death. 

The great work of Silius was entitled the Punica, a heroic 
poem in seventeen books. It has come down to us entire. It 
narrates incidents of the Second Punic War, and is neither 
original nor interesting. Silius was a devoted admirer of 
Virgil, and his work abounds in imitations of his favourite poet. 

A. Persius Flaccus (Persius) was born at Volaterra, in 34. 
Etruria. He was a writer of satire, not very original, for he 
copies Horace somewhat closely. The want of originaHty is 
hid under mannerism, and his writing is often strained and 
even obscure. But he died in 62 A.D., only twenty-eight 
years of age, so that he might have grown out of his man- 
nerisms. He seems to have been an earnest-minded man, and 
there is much to commend in the six short satires which he 
has left. 

M. Fabius Quintilianus (Quintilian) was born at Gala- 35. 
gurris, in Spain. He came to Rome in Galba's train, practised 
at the bar, and was successful both as an advocate and a 
teacher. Among his pupils was the younger Pliny. 

Quintihan was the first to hold the professorial chair of 
rhetoric at Rome, owing his appointment to Vespasian who 
founded it. 

The most important work of this writer wliich we have is 
Institutio Oratorice, the training of an orator. Tliis book 
begins with the most elementary education, and goes on to 
describe what should be the training of a man destined for 
pubHc life. It is a good book, laying down sound rules, and 
pointing the students to the best models. 


39. M. Ann^eus Lucanus. — This genius was a nephew of 

Seneca, and was born at Corduba in Spain, He came to Rome 
at an early age, and quickly became famous as a reciter in 
Latin and Greek. At first he was favourably noticed by Nero 
but was afterwards viewed with jealousy, and even forbidden 
to recite. Unfortunately he was mixed up with the con- 
es, spiracy of Piso. Alarmed for his safety, he turned informer, 
and caused the death of several. At last he slew himself. He 
was only twenty-six years of age, and the poem of Pharsalia, 
the only extant production of his of which we are possessed, 
shows considerable power. Had he lived he might have de- 
veloped into a great poet. 

43. M. Valerius Marti alis (Martial) was an epigrammatic 

poet. He was born at Bilbilis in Spain, came to Rome 66 a.d. 
and died in Spain 104 a.d. He left an enormous number of 
short poems, some 1,500 in all. They deal with an infinite 
variety of subjects, and show an abundance of wit and a fertile 
imagination. They also probably describe a certain side of 
Roman life as it was in his day. But it was a bad side, and 
Martial's writings show that he must have been a bad man. 
Making every allowance for the fact that he was probably 
poor, and wrote in order to attract favour, he must be con- 
victed of having prostituted his pen. But he was very clever. 

45. P. Papinius Statius, born at Naples, was the son of 

Domitian's tutor. His father was also a poet, and wrote on 
the burning of the Capitol. A number of his works are ex- 
tant, enough to show that he had a poetical gift, though not of 
a very high order. His most ambitious work was the Thebaid, 
a heroic poem in twelve books. Another heroic poem dealt 
with the exploits of Achilles. Statius was a court poet, and 
flatters the emperor and his favourites unduly. 

54. C. Cornelius Tacitus was probably born in one of the 

last years of Claudius, or in the first of Nero, that is about 54 
A.D. His parentage and family are unknow]i, and such per- 


sonal history as we have concerning him comes from his own 
works or from tlie letters of the younger Pliny who was his 
personal friend. Eleven of Pliny's letters are addressed to 
Tacitus. It is probable, however, that he belonged to a family 
of some standing, because he was admitted to the quaestorship 
and Senate at an early age. 

It is Hkely that Tacitus was at some time a pupil of Quin- 
tiHan, and that he was a young man of good character and 
promise, for when about twenty-three years of age he was 77. 
betrothed to the daughter of Agricola, then consul. His early 
days were spent at the bar, his official career began under 
Vespasian, and he received favour from both Titus and Domi- 
tian. When in the prime of life he was associated with Pliny lOO. 
in the prosecution of Marius Priscus, pro-consul of Africa ; and 
an inscription from Mylasa in Caria shows that he was for a 
time pro-consul of Asia. 

There is no evidence that Tacitus left any children, but he 
was claimed as an ancestor by his namesake the emperor Taci- 
tus in the tliird century. The people of Terni claimed the 
historian as their citizen, and erected a tomb to him, which was 
destroyed in the latter part of the sixteenth century by Pius 
V. as that of an enemy of Christianity. The Dialogue on 
Orators is generally accepted as the first work of Tacitus. It 
was probably written in the earlier part of Domitian's reign. 
It shows strong republican sympatliies and anti-imperial bias. 
It is clear from the writings of Tacitus that he hated the em- 
pire, and only accepted it because there was no alternative. 
In the Dialogue on Orators Tacitus traces and explains the 
decline of oratory in Rome. 

The Agricola was written by Tacitus, most probably in 
the reign of Trajan. It gives an account of the life of his 
father-in-law, especially of that part of his career which was 
associated with the invasion of Britain, The campaigns are 
described, and a superficial account of the island is given. 
Tacitus shows what we may describe as an amiable weakness 
in over-rating his father-in-law. He draws his life and charaC' 


ter in very bright colours, and gives him a higher place in 
history than fairly belongs to him. 

The Germania describes the geography of Germany and 
the manners and institutions of the German tribes. It con- 
trasts the simplicity and purity of German life with the arti- 
ficiality of life in Rome. Some have even believed that the 
book was meant as a satire upon Roman hfe. But this is not 
probable. As it stands, the book gives an interesting sketch 
of the manners and customs of our Saxon forefathers, em- 
bellished no doubt, but as nearly correct as Tacitus could judge. 

Tacitus wrote a History, consisting of fourteen books, of 
which unhappily only four and a portion of the fifth remain. 
The work gave an account of the history of twenty-seven 
years, between the deaths of Nero and Domitian. 

The work called the Annals must have been a history of 
great importance. It began with the reign of Augustus and 
went on to the death of Nero. Much of it has been lost, but 
much remains. In the Annals the chief events are arranged 
chronologically, and Tacitus of course does not write as a con- 
temporary historian. 

Tacitus was a master of style. His work is always good, 
sometimes brilliant. But as a historian he leaves much to be 
desired. He wrote for eft'ect and he sacrificed fact for art 
when it suited his purpose. Probably he did not mean to be 
unfair. But in the empire he saw only Rome, and in Rome he 
saw only the Senate. It was nothing to him that emperors 
Hke Tiberius and Claudius were working earnestly for the wel- 
fare of the many miUions in the provinces so long as they 
disregarded the interest of a score of Roman aristocrats, who 
thought that the world revolved for their special benefit. This 
spirit, which is unfortunately not peculiar to Tacitus but is 
shared hj many ancient historians, permeates his writing and 
diminishes its historical value. If an emperor did not please 
the Senate, then all that was good in his life is treated lightly 
and anything that was evil is painted in the blackest colours. 
The picture is effective but too lurid to be true to nature. 


To Tacitus belongs the honour of having been the first 
heathen writer to distinctly notice Christianity. We have 
already quoted the passage in dealing with the reign of Nero. 
Tacitus was a child of about six years when the persecution of 
which he speaks took place. He does not beheve in the charge 
of incendiarism which was brought against the Christians, but 
thinks they were criminals and deserving of the severest 
punishment. PHny the Younger writes in much the same 
tone, and from their views upon this subject we can see how 
httle we can rely upon the opinions of ancient historians 
where those opinions are not supported by the evidence of 

Decimus Junius Juvenalis (Juvenal) was born at Aqui- 55. 
num. He was a rhetorician, but had served in the army 
and was in Britain with Agricola. Sixteen satires written 
by him are extant, published in five books, and dealing with 
the social vices of his age. The verses are forcible but often 
coarse, and it would seem that Juvenal only saw one side of 
life, and that by no means the best side. Some of his satire, 
such as that wliich describes love of finery and pride of birth, 
is widely applicable even at the present day. 

C. Plinius C.ecilius (PHny the Younger) was nephew 61. 
and ward of PHny the Elder, and was born at Como. He 
studied under QuintiHan, became an advocate, and afterwards 
filled many pubhc oSices. What we know of his life is derived 
chiefly from his own letters. These were collected by himself 
and were written in some measure with a view to pubHcation, 
but they are not the less interesting on that account. 

The most valuable part of the collection is to be found in 
the letters from PHny to Trajan with Trajan's repHes. From 
these we can gather some fight as to the methods of Rome's 
provincial rule. We have already noticed in dealing with the 
reign of Trajan two of the letters, one which shows how greatly 
averse Trajan was to the establishment of associations which 
however harmless they might appear to be he thought always 


tended to become political ; and the other written concerning 
the treatment of Christians in Bithynia, This last letter with 
Trajan's reply is of the greatest interest, but has already been 
fully dealt with in our historj^ Like Tacitus, Pliny had no 
evidence against the Christians ; they met early, sang hymns, 
and took oath not to commit crimes, that was all he could find 
out about them ; nevertheless it was clear that they followed a 
perverse and extravagant superstition, and were worthy of 

Another of Pliny's letters, already noticed, gives an account 
of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, in connection with which 
the elder PHny met his death. The letter is to Tacitus, and is 
of much interest. 

Phny's letters give good pictures of the Roman society of 
his day, and show that their writer, though by no means great, 
was a highly cultured man. 

75. C. Suetonius Tranquillus was a friend of Pliny and 

private secretary to Hadrian. He fell out witli the emperor 
and was dismissed, after which he employed himself at litera- 
ture. The chief work of his which is extant deals with the 
lives of twelve emperors, from Juhus Csesar to Domitian. The 
work is rather biographical than historical ; he has collected a 
large number of anecdotes about the emperors, sometimes 
scandalous, mostly exaggerated, and often untrue. Neverthe- 
less they give a picture of a sort of the court hfe of that day. 

Suetonius also wrote the biographies of certain illustrious 
men, of which are extant in part the hves of Terence, Horace, 
Lucan and the elder Phny. 

100. M. Cornelius Fronto, a Numichan by birth, and a man of 

considerable learning, was chosen by Antoninus as tutor to his 
adopted sons Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus. A paHmpsest 
found at Milan gives a number of letters which had passed be- 
tween Fronto, Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurehus, Lucius Verus 
and various friends, as well as some short essays. Afterwards, 


upwards of 100 new letters were discovered on a palimpsest in 
the Vatican Librar}^ 

Fronto was famous in his time, and a sect of rhetoricians 
arose who were called Frontoniani. His letters also are in- 
teresting because of the glimpses they give of the simple daily 
life of Antoninus Pius and of other matters. But the style is 
strained and affected, and the composition gives little evidence 
of ability of a liigh order. 

Though we have mentioned in this chapter the names of 
a certain number of historians, poets and rhetoricians who 
flourished in the first two centuries of the empire's history, we 
must not forget that under the empire for more than five 
centuries a very large proportion of Roman literary work was 
not performed upon any one of these lines, but was carried on 
in connection with Roman jurisprudence. If poetical talent 
was becoming somewhat feeble in the empire, legal talent was 
during those centuries at its best. Some of the greatest minds 
of that or any other age were at that time devoted to legal 
study with momentous results. In certain important countries 
of Europe Roman law is still accepted as common law ; in 
other important countries it has a direct influence ; in all 
European countries its influence is felt. We have already 
dealt Avith this subject incidentally as occasion demanded, and 
want of space and perhaps tlie nature of our work renders 
more detailed reference impossible. But it is worth remember- 
ing that if in its later years the Roman Empire did not produce 
any very important poets, it did produce some of the greatest 
lawyers the world has ever seen. 



180. The historians who have been so indulgent to Marcus Aurelius 
have dealt out very hard measure to his son. With the excep- 
tion perhaps of Nero, no other Roman emperor has had so many- 
opprobrious epithets heaped upon his head. He was "atro- 
cious," " monstrous," " worthless," contemptible," no name was 
bad enough for him. There are, however, no facts in his brief 
reign to justify such epithets. They are largely the product 
of senatorial spite. The record of his evil doings has been 
exaggerated, and some of the tales about him are apocryphal. 
The story of the two reigns can be given in a few words. 
Marcus Aurelius flattered the senators, and Commodus per- 
secuted them, therefore the former was an angel of light, and 
the latter a spirit of darkness. We do not justify Commodus 
for persecuting the senators. But his action was not alto- 
gether unreasonable as we shall see. 

Commodus, like Nero, succeeded at a fatally early age to 
the imperial throne, and was subjected to temptations which 
would try the strongest and the most virtuous. But there is 
no reason to believe that he was worse than the young nobles 
by whom he was surrounded, and in some respects his actions 
were greatly to be commended. During his reign, for example, 
the persecution of the Christians ceased. Indeed, they enjoyed 
favour. Hippolytus tells us that Marcia, the concubine of 
Commodus, sent for the Bishop of Rome to inquire what 
confessors were then in the Sardinian mines, the usual place of 
exile for Roman Christians, chosen because of its unhealthiness. 
On his supplying a list of the names, Marcia obtained an order 
of release from the emperor, and sent it by a presbyter to the 

governor of the island, who delivered up the prisoners. 



Irengeus tells us that the Christians during the reign of 
Commodus enjoyed all the privileges of the commonwealth, 
were permitted to go unmolested by land and sea wherever 
they chose, and were even found in the imperial palace. 

Seeing how many hard things have been said against Com- 
modus and Marcia let these at least be remembered to their 

The accusations against Commodus begin with the usual 
Roman lie. He is suspected, says Dion Cassius, of having 
hastened the death of his father by the administration of 
poison. Of course there is no atom of foundation for the sug- 
gestion. Marcus Aurelius died of fever at the age of fifty -nine, 
a worn-out man. 

Commodus is next attacked, and even by modern historians, 
because at his father's death he at once made peace with the 
tribes and returned to Rome. It is assumed that he thus aban- 
doned results which his father was just on the point of achiev- 
ing. As details of the war are most meagre this is mere guess 
work. It is probable that Marcus Aurelius had difficulty in 
holding his own in these frontier wars and only did so by 
yielding to the tribes and giving them settlements in Roman 
territory. Both emperor and empire were exhausted in wars 
which were yielding no recompense for the hardships they 
entailed. It is just as likely that in hastening to make a 
treaty with the tribes Commodus was acting in accordance 
with his father's dying instructions. 

More disingenuous still is the suggestion that Commodus 
abandoned the war because he desired to return to the licen- 
tious pleasures of the capital. The accusation consorts badly 
with the fact that for the first three years of his reign Com- 
modus is acknowledged to have ruled well. 

During his early years Commodus ruled with moderation 
and success. Like his father he had refused to bind himself 
never to take the life of a senator, but there was at first no 
bad feeling between himself and the senatorial body. 

In the third year of his reign, as he was returning from the 


amphitheatre to the palace through a dark portico, an assassin 
rushed upon him with a drawn sword, shouting : " The Senate 
sends you this ". The assassin was seized by the guards and 
Commodus was uninjured, but the incident made a deep im- 
pression upon his mind. The responsibility for the attempted 
assassination was shifted on to the shoulders of Lucilla, the 
widow of Lucius Verus, the late emperor, who is declared to 
have been jealous of the reigning empress, and, therefore, tried 
to kill Commodus. As this lady was remarried and to a 
senator the attempt to lay the crime upon her shoulders seems 
irrational. In any case certain senators were implicated. 
Commodus believed so at all events, and had ground for his 
belief. From that time he became suspicious of the senatorial 
body. He could see that they were unfriendly and would 
supplant him if they could. We can hardly wonder if he sus- 
pected them as secret enemies, and did not wait until they had 
time to strike again with the assassin's knife. Public informers 
were again employed and some of the senators were executed. 
The execution of one enemy breeds ten and so the evil spread. 

The usual charges were made against Commodus concern- 
ing the employment of favourites and probably with the usual 
lack of foundation. In the majority of cases such charges were 
the offspring of envy. Favouritism was but another name for 
ministerial government, 

Perennis was for a time the chief minister. He was prefect 
of the Praetorian Guards and apparently a man of great ability. 
He aimed, however, at ousting the senators from military ap- 
pointments and substituting men of the equestrian order. This 
was enough, his enemies accused him of aspiring to imperial 
power, and so worked upon the emperor that at last they 
obtained the warrant for his execution. 

Perennis was succeeded by Cleander. Of him a great his- 
torian writes : " He was a Phrygian by birth ; of a nation, 
over whose stubborn but servile temper blows only could pre- 
vail. He had been sent from his native country to Rome, in 
the capacity of a slave." 


Gibbon's judgment with regard to the Phrygians is based 
upon an expression in one of Cicero's speeches, scarcely suffi- 
cient evidence upon which to condemn a whole race. But such 
is history. As for Oleander having been made a slave it was 
his misfortune. Slaves sent from their native countries to 
Rome were often better men than their masters, in education 
and even in birth. Much of the literary work and most of the 
commercial work of Rome was in the hands of slaves and 
freedmen. Oleander is said to have sold justice to the highest 
bidder. If this be true then he was worthy of condemnation. 
We cannot condemn him as others have done for erecting baths, 
porticoes, and places of exercise " for the sake of diverting the 
public envy ". 

During the reign of Oommodus Rome suffered from 189. 
another outbreak of the plague. It is said that as many 
as 2,000 persons died daily. Pestilence and famine often 
stalk side by side, and this was the case in Rome. The 
people, filled with misery, rioted and demanded a victim. The 
enemies of Oleander easily persuaded the people that he was 
responsible for the famine, and his head had to fall before the 
riots could be quelled. 

Two accusations are made against Oommodus, which seem 
mutually contradictory. He is said to have been grossly 
licentious, and at the same time a magnificent sportsman. 

Very likely Oommodus was bad enough. The tone of 

Roman society was hopelessly immoral, and a young emperor 

would inevitably be tempted. But ancient historians are 

notoriously unreliable in matters of this sort. It was their 

constant habit to accuse those of whom they disapproved of 

everything that was abominable. Throwing mud was their 

greatest delight. But even in this there should be some 

attempt at consistency. It is difficult to understand how 

Oommodus could have been at once a profligate of the very 

lowest type, and a sportsman of the very highest, " equalling 

the most skilful of his instructors in the steadiness of the eye 

and the dexterity of his hand." 
VOL II. 11 


" Whether he aimed at the head or heart of the animal, 
the wound was alike certain and mortal. With arrows, whose 
point was shaped into the form of a crescent, Commodus often 
intercepted the rapid career and cut asunder the long bony- 
neck of the ostrich. A panther was let loose ; and the archer 
waited till he had leaped upon a trembling malefactor. In the 
same instant the shaft flew, the beast dropped dead, and the 
man remained unhurt. The dens of the amphitheatre dis- 
gorged at once a hundred lions; a hundred darts from the 
unerring hand of Commodus laid them dead as they ran rag- 
ing round the arena " (Gibbon, i., p. 92). 

Making every allowance for exaggeration and for the pre- 
cautions which would certainly be taken to protect the person 
of the young emperor, we cannot believe that these things 
could have been performed by one who spent the balance of 
his time " dissolved in luxury," and in the enjoyment of 
pleasures of the basest sort. Superb archery such as has been 
described demands an amount of nerve, a clearness of vision 
and a steadiness of hand which those who have mingled with 
sportsmen are not wont to associate with gross licentiousness 
and loose living. If critics are inclined to say that in any 
case such exhibitions were beneath the dignity of a Roman 
emperor we may agree with them, yet let us not forget that 
Commodus was only between twenty and thirty, just at the 
age when the best and most noble of our English youth are 
passionately addicted to sport, and are encouraged to excel at 
it by the plaudits of the best of the English people. 

Finally, Commodus is said to have attained the summit of 
infamy by daring to enter the lists as a gladiator. "The 
meanest of the populace," we are told, " were affected with 
shame and indignation, when they beheld their sovereign 
. . . glory in a profession whicli the laws and manners of the 
Romans had branded with the justest note of infamy." 

The laws and manners of the Romans were responsible for 
many inconsistent things, and amongst other things for this 
that they compelled men to fight to the death, in order that 


the citizens might have sport, and counted them infamous 
because they did it. A gladiatorial show was infamous if 
you like. But the infamous persons were not the wretched 
combatants but the spectators, the lords and ladies whose 
signals determined whether the defeated and prostrate victim 
should have his throat cut out of hand, or be spared in order 
that he might afford their highnesses further sport. When 
Commodus descended into the arena, and fought as a gladiator 
in engagements which we are informed were seldom san- 
guinary, his conduct was undignified, but it was plucky, and 
the word infamous should not have been used. Fighting wild 
beasts and gladiators in the arena was not sport fit for an em- 
peror, but it was, after all, nobler sport than hounding Chris- 
tians to death. 

There is some doubt as to the manner of the emperor's 192. 
death. Fatigued with hunting, he ate and di-ank freely, and 
then fell asleep. Some said that Marcia, his mistress, em- 
ployed a man to strangle him, others that he died of apoplexy. 
Death under such circumstances is not uncommon, and the 
body often presents the appearance of strangulation. We 
need not, therefore, believe the worst. 

Commodus was thirty-two years of age, and had reigned 
for thirteen years. 



192. Pertinax. — When the senators learned that Commodus was 
dead, they met, and with tumultuary votes, that is, votes 
moved by one senator and chanted by the rest, declared his 
memory infamous, reversed his honours, erased his titles from 
monuments, and threw down his statues. They even insulted 
his dead body, though we may hope that the best of them 
held aloof. It was at times such as these that the senators 
showed how little they could govern themselves, and therefore 
how unfit they were to govern the Roman people. 

At daybreak the leaders of the guards and the senators 
met in conference and elected a new emperor. Their choice 
fell upon P. Helvius Pertinax, one of themselves. Pertinax 
was an excellent man, who had risen from the ranks, had 
become a general of distinction, and had filled important 
public offices. He was now prefect of the city, and sixty-six 
years of age. 

Pertinax ruled well, fully justifying the Senate in its 
choice. Following the example of Antoninus Pius, he made 
over his private property to his wife and son, thus separating 
his private purse from the public money. Exiles were re- 
called, informers were disgraced, public expenditure was re- 
duced, and taxes were remitted, Pertinax is credited with 
still wider reforms, both fiscal and agrarian, but he could 
scarcely have done more than to have contemplated these 
seeing how short was his reign. 

The new emperor pleased neither soldiers nor populace. 

Commodus had been open-handed, and this was remembered 

in the face of the economy of Pertinax. Commodus had been 



indulgent to the soldiers : Pertinax was severe. Accord- 
ingly when he began to introduce military reforms and to 
touch the privileges of the guards, they would have none of 
him. Two abortive attempts were made to assassinate him, 
and then some hundreds of soldiers marched to the palace and 
slew him in cold blood. 

The reign of Pertinax lasted for but eighty-six days. He 
was a good man and worthy of a better fate. 

DiDius JuLiANUS. — Elated by their success in getting rid 193. 
of Pertinax the guards negotiated with Flavins Sulpicianus, 
his father-in-law, pi-efect of the city, demanding to know what 
donative he would give if they raised him to the throne. We 
need not judge Sulpicianus harshly for thus negotiating with 
the murderers of his relative ; had he refused the guards in 
the temper in which they then were, he might have shared his 

Whilst negotiations were pending, a wealthy senator named 
Didius Julianus was also approached, and agreed to give the 
soldiers £200 apiece for the prize. His offer was accepted, 
and he was hailed as emperor. The senators made the best 
they could of it, and conferred upon their enterprising col- 
league the imperial power. 

The open sale of the imperial dignity to Didius Julianus 
was only another step in a very degrading process which had 
been at work amongst the soldiers for some time. Claudius 
was the first who gave a donative to the soldiers on his accession. 
Since his reign it had been the rule. Marcus Aurelius though 
he succeeded quietly gave £160 to each of the guards. The 
practice was most injurious to the interests of the empire. 
Clearly it was to the advantage of the soldiers that the 
emperor should be often changed, for a new emperor meant a 
new donative. 

Being at headquarters the Praetorian guards were the first 
to profit by this way of choosing emperors. But they were 
not to have a monopoly of the speculation. There were regi- 


ments more powerful than theirs, and it had already been dis- 
covered that emperors could be made elsewhere than at Rome. 

The news that the chief magistracy of the empire had been 
sold to the highest bidder spread, and was received with in- 
dignation by all the soldiers who had not shared in the plunder. 
Amongst these the most indignant were the soldiers of the 
frontier armies. There were three of these, one in Britain 
commanded by Albinus, one in Pannonia commanded by Sep- 
timius Severus, and one in Syria under the generalship of 

The three armies were well-balanced as regards strength, 
the soldiers were in good fighting trim, they had confidence in 
their generals, and they were full of contempt for the show 
regiments who had presumed to constitute themselves king- 
makers for the empire. Each army accordingly declared its 
own general emperor, and demanded to be led to Rome. 

Of the three armies that of Severus was nearest to the 
capital. Accordingly, the soldiers were assembled and Severus 
harangued them, promising them £400 apiece if they put him 
on the throne, twice the sum that Julianus had given. The 
soldiers were well satisfied ; they hailed him as emperor and 
set out without delay. 

Advancing by forced marches Severus soon approached the 
city. Julianus was panic-stricken, and the guards knew that 
they could not cope with the army of the Danube. Accord- 
ingly, when Severus sent messages to Rome declaring that his 
only mission was to punish the murderers of Pertinax, and 
when he privately informed the guards that if they yielded 
he would spare them, they deserted Julianus with one accord. 
The Senate then met, deposed and executed the wretched 
emperor of sixty-six days, and elected Severus in his stead. 

193. Severus. — Though L. Septimius Severus had gained the 

throne in such an irregular fashion he was not unworthy 
of it. He was an African by birth, but of good family, and 
had held important military commands under Marcus Aurelius 


and Commodus. He was a tried soldier and a successful 

On his arrival at Rome Severus ordered the soldiers of the 
guard to lay down their arms and then disbanded them, and 
banished them on pain of death to the distance of one hundred 
miles from Rome. He then proceeded to deal with Niger and 
Albinus. They were able and popular men, and Severus would 
probably have been willing at first to consent to joint-rule to 
conciliate either or both. But it was not so to be. 

Severus first marched against Niger and defeated him in 
two engagements, the former near the Hellespont, the latter in 
Cilicia. In Cilicia Niger was slain. Byzantium was strongly 
garrisoned and refused to surrender, so Severus laid siege to 
that city. Whilst the siege was in progress he crossed the 
Euphrates, and reduced some parts of Mesopotamia. Byzan- 
tium resisted with great pertinacity for three years, and at 
last only yielded to famine. Its inhabitants were put to the i96. 
sword and its fortifications were demolished. This was an 
error of judgment, for the city presented a strong bulwark 
against Asiatic invasion. 

Whilst these matters were in progress Severus had secured 
the neutrality of Albinus by making him Caesar and promising 
him the succession. But now that he had disposed of his 
enemies in the East the emperor had no fancy for divided rule 
and turned his forces westward. Albinus was governor both 
of Britain and Gaul, so that he mustered a powerful army. 
The forces encountered in Gaul near the city of Lyons and a 
very terrible battle was fought. It ended with the defeat and 
death of Albinus. 

Severus was now undisputed master of the Roman world, 
and he might well have been magnanimous to the partisans of 
his defeated rivals. But it was quite otherwise. Large 
numbers of provincials whose only crime had been that they 
obeyed their Roman governor, were punished with exile, con- 
fiscation, even death. The cities which had supported his 
rivals had to purchase pardon at a great price. The senators 


suffered terribly. They had cursed Commodus because he 
treated them badly. But Severus' little finger was thicker 
than his loins. Twenty-nine senators were condemned to 
death, their estates were confiscated, their families were in- 
volved with them in ruin. 
198. After these things the emperor set out again for the East 

to repel the invasion of the Parthians who were ravaging 
Mesopotamia. He crossed the Euphrates and carried out a 
series of brilliant military operations. He remained in the 
East for three years, and visited Arabia, Palestine and Egypt. 

From the East Severus returned to Rome and remained 
there tranquilly for seven years. During those years he 
ruled despotically, but not without regard for humanity and 
justice His government rested entirely upon military force. 
He had dismissed the guards who numbered 10,000, and sub- 
stituted his own soldiers who numbered 50,000. They were 
the picked troops of the frontier armies, soldiers drawn from 
many nationalities, and they held Rome in awe. 

The troops in Rome were well paid, and their officers lived 
extravagantly, so that they were no small burden upon the 
State. But this was the least of it. The worst feature of the 
case was that the proximity of so many troops to Rome had 
a most injurious effect upon civil jurisdiction. Whilst the 
troops were under the iron hand of a man like Septimius 
Severus their influence might not be so malign, but should an 
emperor arise who either could not or would not control them 
civil jurisdiction would be paralysed and Rome would be under 
martial law. 

Severus carried on the dole system in Rome on a more 
lavish scale than had yet been attempted, and the displays 
by which he amused the populace were specially magnificent. 
He also built freely, and the arch which commemorates his 
triumphs is still one of the sights of Rome. The provinces 
were justly governed. It was the policy of Severus, himself a 
provincial, to level distinctions between Italy and the provinces 
as much as he could. 


iEmiliarma Papinianus, the most celebrated of Roman 
jurists, flourished in this reign. He was the teacher and 
i'riond of Severus, who made him praetorian prefect jointly 
with Ma3cius Lsetus, and supreme judge of Rome. Papinian 
was a man of high moral worth, and in matters where he was 
concerned we may be sure that the law was administered with 
impartiality. Other eminent jurists, such as Paulus, Modes- 
tinus and Ulpian, also flourished about this time. They were 
pupils of Papinian. 

Unfortunately Jews and Christians had little reason to 
thank Severus. He issued an edict forbidding, under severe 
penalties, conversion either to Judaism or Christianity. Many 
Christians sufl'ered martyrdom dm^ing his reign, especially in 
Africa and Egypt. 

Near Carthage the martyrdom of Perpetua, Felicitas and 
their companions took place. The narrative of the martyrdom 
is well authenticated. Perpetua and Felicitas, both young 
married women with infant children, were stripped, enclosed 
in nets and gored by a wild cow. Wounded, but not killed, 
Perpetua rose and asked permission to bind her dishevelled 
hair that she might not appear to the crowd to be mourning. 
Seeing Felicitas lying wounded and crushed, she went to her 
and lifted her up. Then the two women, the one a lady by 
birth, the other a slave, but both equally noble in the sight of 
God, stood side by side awaiting the end. They were merci- 
fully despatched by the sword. There is a mosaic of Perpetua 
in the archbishop's palace at Ravenna. 

Severus married as his second wife a distinguished Syrian 
lady, Julia Domna. By her he had two sons, Bassianus (better 
known as Caracalla) and Septimius Geta. Severus associated 
both of his sons with himself in the imperial dignity. 

After remaining about seven years at Rome Severus found 20S. 
it necessary to proceed to Britain, where the province was 
suffering greatly from the inroads of the Caledonians. He 
took his two sons with him. He was no longer young, and 
being a martyr to gout had to be carried in a litter. 


Severus made a brave effort to conquer the Caledonians 
and went far north, meeting the enemy in several battles. The 
Caledonians seem to have avoided a general engagement for 
the most part, but to have done great mischief to the Romans 
by cutting off stragglers and by ambuscades. The weather 
also tried the soldiers greatly. Severus, therefore, was not un- 
willing to grant peace when they asked for it. 

On this occasion Severus strengthened the earthwork be- 
tween the Forth and Clyde (Graham's Dyke), and completed, 
if he did not entirely build, the stone wall alongside Hadrian's 
fortification between the Sol way and the Tyne. 

The emperor had long been in failing health and he died at 
York in the sixty-fifth year of his age, having reigned for 
eighteen years. 



Caracalla. — Severus desired that his sons, Caracalla and 211. 
Geta, should reign as joint-emperors, and the soldiers, loyal 
to his memory, proclaimed them as such. The young men 
returned to Rome, were formally approved by the Senate, and 
administered jointly. The arrangement would have been try- 
ing under the best of circumstances, but was made specially 
difficult in this instance from the fact that there was enmity of 
long standing between the brothers. 

In order to make things easier it was proposed to separate 
the interest of the brothers by dividing the empire between 
them. In a treaty which was being drafted it was arranged 
that Caracalla, the elder brother, should take Europe and 
Western Africa, while Geta took Asia and Egypt, the Bos- 
phorus dividing the empires. The Romans are said to have 
received these suggestions with surprise and indignation, but 
in the reign of Diocletian the geographical division of the 
empire between two or more emperors was made a principle of 

Whilst the treaty was being considered Geta was murdered. 212. 
The deed was done by some centurions in the presence of Julia 
Domna, the mother, who was wounded in trying to save him. 
Caracalla may have directly instigated the deed or the cen- 
turions may only have believed that he would be glad to have 
his brother out of the way. Caracalla is said to have been 
present at the murder, but the description of the event seems 
coloured and unreliable. Geta's name was afterwards men- 
tioned with respect, he was buried with all honour, and medals 
are still extant which show that he was consecrated. This 



does not carry with it the impression of wilful and deliberate 

Caracalla now reigned alone. The legal name of the em- 
peror, and the one which appears on medals and inscriptions 
was Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. Caracalla was a nickname 
derived from his favourite dress, the long tunic worn by the 
Gauls. But it is the name by which he is best known. 

The murder of Geta was followed by a proscription, and 
the exile and execution of all presumed to be enemies of Cara- 
calla. Twenty thousand persons are said to have suffered 
death, but we may safely assume this to be a great exaggera- 
tion. Two thousand would probably be nearer the figure. 

Amongst those who fell was Papinian, the jurist, of whom 
we have already spoken. Severus greatly esteemed him, and 
it is likely that he accompanied the emperor to Britain and 
was present at his death at York. Severus is said to have 
commended his sons to his care. Papinian was praetorian 
prefect, but Caracalla on his accession deposed him from this 
office, which does not seem to have been one for which a 
lawyer would be specially suitable. It is said that after the 
murder of Geta, Caracalla requested Papinian to write a vindi- 
cation to be read before the Senate, but that he refused. This 
may have been partly the reason, but the true cause of his 
execution probably was that the soldiers disliked him exceed- 
ingly, and that Caracalla let his head fall in order to please 

That same year Caracalla took a step of enormous import- 
ance to the subjects of the empire. He extended the citizenship 
to all persons who were not slaves. Thus all governed by Rome 
now called themselves Romans, and Italy and the provinces 
became equalised. The change is said to have been made 
primarily in order that the emperor might raise succession 
duty over a wider area. This would be one legitimate effect 
of the change, but the reform was none the less laudable. 

The military consideration would certainly weigh with 
Caracalla as much as the financial. Great changes were tak- 


ing place in the army. Italy no longer supplied the best 
recruiting ground. The army was largely composed of pro- 
vincials. Surely it was better that these should realise their 

But there was another reason for the change. This was 
the most important reform which had been carried in the 
Roman Empire since the days of Augustus. Those whose 
prejudice against Caracal! a prevents them from believing that 
he could do anything praiseworthy, profess either that he de- 
graded the citizenship by his action or that Roman citizenship 
was now scarcely worth having. In speaking thus slightingly 
of the reform they are thinking chiefly of the sutirage and are 
forgetting the private law aspect of the case. In the Roman 
Empire the peregrinus or alien had only the rights which be- 
longed to the law of nations, that is, the common, natural rights 
of man. He was debarred from all civil law rights, these were 
confined to the citizen. One favoured class of aliens called 
Latini had certain rights of the citizen but not others. The 
provincials were mostly looked on as aliens though the jus 
Lata had been conferred as a favour on particular communi- 
ties. Vespasian had bestowed the jus Latii on the whole 
province of Spain. The difference between the full citizen 
and the alien, equally born in the empire, was a very real 
difference, felt at every turn. The alien could be treated with 
gross cruelty and injustice and had scarcely any appeal. A 
man not legally in the citizen class was under the greatest 
disability at private law and was baulked of justice at every 

The Emperor Caracalla bestowed Roman citizenship on all 
the provinces. After this the word alien had its modern 
significance. It applied to persons born outside the limits of 
the Roman empire, and to citizens who for some offence had 
their citizenship taken away. This extension of Roman 
citizenship was therefore of enormous importance, and must 
have been felt as the greatest of blessings by millions of Cara- 
calla's subjects whom he thus by one act of justice relieved 


from the continual and vexatious burden of their alien con- 
dition. By this act which some historians pass over so lightly 
Caracalla did more for the happiness of the people than he 
could have done had he added many provinces to the empire. 
Other useful enactments date from this reign. There are 
200 constitutions of Caracalla extant in the Code. 
213. After these events Caracalla left Rome and travelled in the 

provinces, carrying on successful campaigns on the Rhine, in 
Egypt, and on the Euphrates. Some say that he never returned 
to the capital, but there are indications that he revisited Rome 
in 214 A.D. after his Rhine campaign. 

Caracalla is represented by historians as a monster of 
iniquity, who made every province in turn the scene of rapine 
and cruelty. We are not inclined to defend war at all, but 
we fail to see why it should be deemed laudable in one reign, 
and spoken of as rapine and cruelty in another. Caracalla 
seems to have carried out his father's policy both in civil ad- 
ministration and military affairs with ability, and there is no 
reason to believe that the wars waged by him had any element 
of cruelty from which wars in general are free. 

215. One of the worst acts of Caracalla is said to have been a 
massacre ordered at Alexandria, in consequence of some allu- 
sion by the citizens to the assassination of his brother. This 
is a distorted view of the matter. There had been serious 
conspiracies in Egypt, and Alexandria was the scene of many 
tumults. The city had given the Emperor Severus much 
anxiety. Perhaps the fact that he was a native of the West 
African province did not commend itself to the Egyptians. 
Evidently Caracalla thought a severe lesson necessary, so he 
gave the city over, not to massacre, but to plunder. Doubt- 
less in defending their goods many were slain. The act was 
harsh and cruel, if you like, but it was not the capricious 
petulant act which so many have represented it to have been. 

216. From Egypt Caracalla went to Mesopotamia, where he 
crossed the Euphrates and reduced the country beyond. He 
had a high admiration for Alexander the Great, and perhaps 


some vague idea of emulating his exploits. Admiration for 
Alexander was a feature of the age. 

Caracalla further developed the phalanx which, it will be 
remembered, Hadrian introduced. Those who understand the 
subject declare that Caracalla's further development was a 
great benefit. 

During his second campaign in Mesopotamia, whilst visit- 
ing the temple of the Moon at Carrhse, Caracalla was assas- 
sinated by a soldier to whom he had refused promotion. The 
assassin was instantly killed by a soldier of the guard. 

Caracalla was an able man, and a useful emperor. He was 
no angel, but to speak of him as " a monster whose life dis- 
graced human nature" (Gibbon, chap, vi.) is absurd. He was 
neither better nor worse than the rest. 

Macrinus. — Macrinus, the praefect of the Praetorian Guards 217. 
had accompanied Caracalla to the East, and it is said to have 
been at his instigation that the emperor was assassinated. The 
story, however, seems very doubtful. Certainly, if Macrinus 
had anything to do with the assassination he would have done 
his best to conceal the fact, for Caracalla was popular with 
the soldiers, and had they suspected Macrinus, he would prob- 
ably have fallen a victim to their fury. 

For the moment there seemed no better choice than Ma- 
crinus, so the soldiers proclaimed him emperor, and the Senate 
approved the choice. Both soldiers and Senate were half- 
hearted for Macrinus was not a distinguished man. 

Macrinus carried on the war against the Parthians for a 
time, but was defeated with heavy loss, and had to retire to 
Syria, where he made Antioch his head-quarters. The defeat 
greatly diminished his prestige. He also lost popularity with 
the soldiers by trying to reform the army, and especially by 
reducing their pay and privileges. True this was for the 
moment confined to the new recruits, but the veterans feared 
that it would be their turn next. 

There lived at Emesa a sister of Julia Domna the widow of 


Severus, by name Julia Msesa. Her grandson, a boy of thir- 
teen, was a priest in the temple of the sun-god, and had taken 
the name of Elagabalus or Heliogabalus, in honour of the 
deity. His real name was Bassianus, so that he was both 
nephew and namesake of Caraealla. 

There were many Easterns in the army, and the soldiers, 
seeing the boy in the temple, handsome and richly dressed, 
declared that he had his uncle's features, and a report spread 
that he was Caracalla's son. When therefore Macrinus became 
unpopular in the army, the grandmother put the boy forward 
and the troops stationed at Emesa proclaimed him emperor. 

Macrinus did not instantly crush the mutiny and it spread 
quickly, for the temple of the Sun was rich and could bribe 
freely. The mutiny spread throughout Syria, and when 
Macrinus marched against the rebels he was defeated and fled 
in disguise. Shortly afterwards he was seized in Chalcedon 
and slain, and the armies joined forces under the banner of the 

218. Heliogabalus. — Varius Avitus Bassianus, who is better 

known to us as Heliogabalus, now sat upon the imperial throne. 
He took, in compliment to his reputed father, the name of 
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. 

The records left by historians concerning this prince repre- 
sent him as a very vile person indeed, but we believe his 
wickedness to have been exaggerated. The reason for the 
exaggeration is not hard to find. 

First, however, let us remember that Heliogabalus was 
scarcely more than a child when he became emperor and that 
he reigned for less than four yeax's. All the enormities which 
have come down associated with his name must have been 
perpetrated between his fourteenth and eighteenth years. 
Some think that he may have been a year or two older, but 
not much. He was, therefore, the merest lad from the time 
that he was crowned until the time when his mangled body 
was thrown into the Tiber. 


If, then, Heliogabalus became so corrupt, on whom must 
we lay the blame ? The boy was being trained as a priest in 
the temple of the sun-god at Emesa when the soldiers found 
him. The worship of the sun as the giver of life was very 
ancient and not specially degrading. Certainly the idea was 
more elevating than the worship of images as it was carried on 
in Rome. We may presume, therefore, that Heliogabalus did 
not learn to be vicious in the temple at Emesa. If he became 
vicious, he became vicious in Rome. A boy of fourteen is 
taken from his mother's side, placed upon the Roman throne 
and surrounded by so many temptations that in less than four 
years he is only fit to be thrown into the Tiber. It is little to 
the credit of Rome. 

We think, however, that the ancient historian has blackened 
the character of Heliogabalus with a purpose, and that the 
truth must be found by reading between the lines. Helio- 
gabalus began his life as a priest of the sun-god and knew 
little or nothing of any other religion. He ascribed that which 
he fondly imagined to be his good fortune to this deity, and 
he arrived at Rome full of gratitude to his celestial patron. 
Arrived there, he determined to at once introduce sun-worship. 
Knowing nothing of theological differences and the bitterness 
engendered by them, he thought that his task would be easy. 
He built a magnificent temple on Mount Palatine and tried to 
make it the centre of Roman worship. The Roman emperor 
was the pontiff", and he desired to be high priest for the 
people. So little did the boy understand about the matter 
that he even wanted the Jews and the Christians to worship 
in his temple, and look upon him as their high priest. " Dice- 
bat praeterea, Judaeorum et Samaritanorum religiones, et Chris- 
tianam devotionem illuc transferendam, ut omnium cultm^arum 
secretum Heliogabali sacerdotium teneret" {Scriptores Hist. 

To this temple of the sun-god he either removed or tried to 
remove the objects which the citizens specially venerated. 
Amongst these were the palladium and ancilia, the statue and 
VOL. II. 12 


shields which fell down from heaven, and upon the preserva- 
tion of which the safety of Rome depended. It reads strangely 
that one of the crimes charged against Heliogabalus was his 

But cannot we imagine the storm of wrath which Helio- 
gabalus would bring down upon his head by such well-meant, 
but hopelessly inconsiderate, action. Imagine the consterna- 
tion and wrath of the priests who had charge of the palladium 
and ancilia, and had thriven for centuries upon that particular 
superstition, at finding their occupation gone and Syrian 
priests taking the very bread out of their mouths. There 
were hundreds of temples in Rome and thousands of priests. 
They belonged to the wealthy families, for their occupation 
was most lucrative, and every individual pagan priest in Rome 
would pour out venom upon the young emperor. And so they 
did. Vile stories about what was done in the temple of the 
Sun ; vile stories about the nature of the worship which Helio- 
gabalus 1 wished to introduce, instead of the good old religion 
which had served the state for a thousand years ; vile stories 
about the boy himself. 

There was another weapon ready to the hands of the 
priesthood, and we doubt not that it was freely used. When 
a young emperor was inclined to be too much in earnest in a 
cause there were ways of diverting him well understood by 
the Romans. Nero had been ruined in this way, why not 
Heliogabalus ? We doubt not that those who surrounded 
the boy did their best to corrupt his mind, and if there is 
any truth in the tales which are related to his discredit we 
blame him less than the vile men and women of the Roman 

Some of the things we read about this boy-emperor, over 
which historians make such ado, are harmless enough. Before 
he reached Rome he sent to the senators a picture of himself. 
He thought that it would please them, but, instead, it filled 
them with disgust. Yet it was but an ordinary picture of a 
gaily attired and decorated Eastern prince in robes of silk and 


gold, with many gems and bracelets and a tiara. Any one 
who has lived in India has seen the same sort of costume a 
hundred times. There was no need to be disgusted with a 
young Oriental prince for dressing according to the custom of 
his country. 

It is related as a matter to his discredit that he carried his 
mother with him to the Senate-house, and demanded that she 
should always be present when matters of importance were 

On many occasions the boy-emperor acted foolishly. He 
played tricks upon reverend signors, not realising the immense 
store placed by a Roman upon his dignity. But if the Romans 
were foolish enough to turn a child into an emperor what else 
could they expect ? Pretending to smother his guests with 
roses at one time, and at another letting loose wild beasts upon 
them, whose teeth had been drawn and their claws carefully 
pared, were tricks quite beneath the dignity of a Roman 
emperor, but not beneath the dignity of a schoolboy, and 
Heliogabalus never was more. 

These things we can understand, and we can also regret- 
fully believe that through the temptations pressed upon him 
the lad fell into evil ways. But that a boy of fourteen could 
change into a devil incarnate and contrive to compress into 
three years and nine months the catalogue of crime laid to his 
charge we cannot believe. 

When Heliogabalus had been three years king he adopted 
his cousin Alexander, and invested him with the title of Caesar. 
Alexander was but thirteen years of age, so that the state- 
ments concerning his virtues are only made for the sake of 
throwing a deeper shadow upon the character of his rival. 
It was easy to find an excuse for rebellion, and the Praetorian 
guards always on the outlook for a donative, and eager, no 
doubt, to preserve the dignity and morals of the Roman court, 
murdered the wretched boy and threw his corpse into the 

Gibbon says : " His memory was branded with eternal 


infamy by the Senate ; the justice of whose decree has been 
ratitied by posterity ". This is quite true, but how far pos- 
terity has been content to accept the verdict of the Senate 
without troubling to think out the question for itself is another 



Alexander Severus. — The year before his assassination 222. 
Heliogabalus had adopted his cousin Alexander as his suc- 
cessor, and he now ascended the throne. He was born 208 
A.D., and was, therefore, but thirteen and a half years old on 
his elevation. 

Alexander was a PhcEnician by birth, and had spent his 
childhood mostly at Emesa. When Heliogabalus was chosen 
as emperor he and his mother Julia Mamsea accompanied him 
to Rome. 

Owing to Alexander's youth the direction of political affairs 
rested chiefly in the hands of the queen mother, who was a 
woman of great capacity. 

For the guidance of affairs of state a council was elected 
consisting of sixteen senators, before whom important ques- 
tions of legislation and administration were brought. At the 
head of the council was Ulpian, a man of Phoenician birth, like 
the emperor himself, and a distinguished jurist. A second 
member of the council was Paulus, a third Modestinus, both 
distinguished jurists. 

The fact that such men were on the council sufficiently 
proves its merits. By its influence better men than formerly 
were placed in office, and reforms were introduced into both 
civil and military administration. But the virtues of Alex- 
ander and his able ministers were more hateful to the soldiers 
than the vices of former monarchs. There was much discon- 
tent and rioting, and street fights often took place between 

the guards and the populace. Then there was a mutiny 



against Ulpian himself. He had been made praetorian pre- 
fect, though we do not know the date of his appointment. As 
prefect he was not popular and the soldiers suspected, prob- 
ably with good reason, that he was the author of the reforms 
to which they objected. Accordingly they broke into the 
228. palace and murdered him in the very presence of the emperor 
and his mother. 

The eminent historian Dion Cassius, who had served several 
monarchs in succession, also became obnoxious to the guards, 
and they clamoured for his life. Dion escaped to Campania, 
and afterwards obtained permission from the emperor to 
retire to Nicsea in Bithynia, his native town. There he lived 
quietly until his death. 

232. After some years of peace Alexander became involved in 
war with Persia. The Persians, so great in former times, had 
for many years been under the heel of Parthia. Of late they 
had risen against their oppressors, and under a leader bearing 
the ancient name of Artaxerxes had again formed a Persian 
kingdom. Artaxerxes was the descendant of one Sassan from 
whom the dynasty which he formed was called that of the 
Sassanidae. This dynasty ruled Persia for four hundred years. 
It was overthi'own by the Moslems. The last king, Yezdegird, 
was assassinated in 651. 

The Persians now demanded that Rome should surrender 
the provinces which she had taken from the Parthians. In 
the war which ensued Alexander claimed to have been vic- 
torious. Some doubt has been cast upon this, but it is clear that 
the Persians were checked in their Western advance. Seeing 
also that no provinces were restored and no ground lost to the 
empire in any way, Alexander must have had a fair amount of 
success. But he had to return hurriedly as news reached him 
that Gaul was being attacked by German tribes. 

233. After celebrating a triumph in Rome, Alexander set out for 
Gaul. The Germans were devastating the countrj^ and it 
seems likely that the soldiers did not deem him strong enough 
to deal with the difficulties of the situation. Before, therefore, 


he had made any progress in the campaign they mutinied and 
slew him. Julia Mamgea his distinguished mother perished 235. 
with her son. 

All that we know of Alexander is to his credit. Though 
not a Christian, he was kind to Christians. He placed an 
image of Christ in the chapel of the Imperial Palace. Statues 
of Abraham, Orpheus and others were also there. Christians 
were welcomed to the palace, and Christian bishops were re- 
ceived at court. The emperor copied the Christian method of 
electing office-bearers in electing civil magistrates, ordering 
that the names of the candidates should be published before- 
hand. The Christian maxim " as ye would that men should 
do to you, do ye also to them " pleased him so much that he 
placed this rendering over the door of his palace : — 

" Quod tibi fieri non vis, alteri ne feceris ". 

Maximin. — When Alexander Severus was assassinated the 235. 
general of the troops in Gaul was Maximinus, a Thracian. 
He was a remarkable man, of gigantic stature and herculean 
strength, who had enlisted in the reign of Septimius Severus, 
had attracted the attention of that monarch by his extraor- 
dinary feats, and then had risen step by step until he was now 
general of the fourth legion. 

On the death of Alexander the soldiers proclaimed Maximin 
emperor. It is said that he was the head of the mutiny against 
his prince and planned his assassination, but from what we can 
judge of Maximin's character in other ways we are inclined to 
doubt it. The Senate detested Maximin and spread abroad 
stories about his wickedness, for which we fancy there was 
little foundation. 

Maximin was a rough, uneducated soldier. His life had 
been spent in camp, and for him the army was all in all. As 
a Thracian he had no special regard for Italy, or Rome, or the 
Senate, and during the three years of his reign he never visited 
Rome once. But he knew his work and he did it. The Ger- 
mans were across the frontier and ravaging Gaul and Maximin 


steadily fought them back. He was far better able to cope 
with the dangers that then beset the empire than Alexander 
had been. 

During Maximin's reign the government of Rome was car- 
ried on by his representative, Vitalian, the praetorian prefect, 
who probably had diflficulty in keeping the senators in check, 
and, therefore, governed tyrannically. 

Maximin seems to have been a shrewd, well-meaning and 
capable man, not at all the brute the historians declare. Had 
he been so his wife PauUina would not have had so much 
influence over him. By all accounts she was a gentle and 
benevolent woman. 

Maximin is accused of having robbed the temples of their 
treasures, and compelled the cities to lay aside their games in 
order that his avarice might be satisfied. This is most unfair. 
The defence of the empire was a very serious business. Maxi- 
min was fighting on the Rhine and Danube with all his might 
and the least the people could do was to support him. It was 
little enough that the temples should part with some of their 
hoarded wealth and that the people should postpone their 
amusements at such a time. 

At length a revolt arose in Africa on a question of taxa- 
tion. Some gilded youths, pressed by the tax-collector to part 
with a portion of their wealth for the service of the State 
killed the tax-collector and proclaimed Gordianus their pro- 
consul emperor. Gordianus was eighty years of age, but he 
had a son of forty-six, whose name was associated with his 
own in the proclamation. Apparently neither father nor son 
had either qualification or desire for the high position. But 
they accepted it under pressure, and the senators eager to get 
rid of their Thracian emperor, ratified the election and declared 
Maximin a public enemy. 

238. The Two Gordians. — The tenure of office enjoyed by the 

Gordians was brief. Capelianus, the governor of Mauretania, 
remained faithful to Maximinus, and took the field against the 


usurpers. The younger Gordian met him but was defeated 
and slain. The elder Gordian then slew himself. He had • 
reigned for two months. 

The news from Africa terrified the Senate and the people 
of Rome, But they had gone too far to withdraw, and two 
senators, Maximus and Balbinus, were found willing to be 
elected emperors instead of the Gordians. With them, that 
all parties might be conciliated, the Senate nominated a boy, 
grandson of the older Gordian, as Crown Prince. 

Maximin heard of these doings with wrath and crossed the 
Alps at the head of his legions. The Senate meanwhile had 
ordered the country round about to be devastated and had 
thrown garrisons into the cities. Maximin laid siege to 
Aquileia, but the inhabitants resisted strenuously and he made 
poor progress. It was feared, however, that he would relin- 
quish the siege of Aquileia and march upon Rome, so influence 
or bribery was brought to bear upon some soldiers of the Prae- 
torian guard and he was murdered whilst asleep in his tent. 
His son was also slain and several officers who were faithful to 

Maximus and Balbinus. — The two senatorial nominees 238. 
now entered Rome in triumph, but not without dread. The 
soldiers watched the proceedings with sullen looks. Maximin 
had been chosen by the army, and with all his roughness was 
a man equal to the emergencies of empire, and able to cope 
with the dangers by which Rome was surrounded. Their man 
had been foully murdered and the senators had placed men 
upon the throne for whom they cared nothing. Not only had 
this been done without their consent, but it had been done in a 
way which carried with it the appearance of wanton insult. 
Accordingly when the palace guards were for the most part 
amusing themselves at the Capitoline games a body of soldiers 
broke into the apartments of the emperors, seized and mur- 
dered them, and flung their bodies contemptuously into the 


238. GoRDiAN III. — The boy Gordianus, who had been nomin- 

ated Crown Prince by the Senate, was spared, and, as there 
was no one else at hand, the soldiers carried him to the camp 
and saluted him as emperor. He was little more than twelve 
years of age when these things happened. He was assassi- 
nated before he was nineteen and we know little of what 
happened between. 

As the emperor was so young, affairs of State were con- 
ducted by his ministers. The chief of these was Timesitheus, 
who seems to have been a man of much ability. Gordian 
married his daughter and was under his influence, which was 
wisely exercised. 

242. The Persians invaded Mesopotamia and even threatened 

Antioch. War was therefore considered necessary and an 
army marched for the East. Timesitheus had the chief control, 
but the young emperor was with the army. On its way it 
halted in Thrace and cleared the province of barbarian in- 
vaders, Alans, Goths and Sarmatians. 

Owing to the abilities displayed by Timesitheus, the 
Persians were defeated. Carrhae and Nisbis were captured, 
and the Roman army prepared to march upon Ctesiphou. Un- 
fortunately, at this important juncture Timesitheus died. He 
was succeeded as prefect of the Prsetyrian guard and com- 
mander-in-chief by Julius Philippus, an'' able but perhaps less 
worthy man. 

Philip is said to have used his high office as a means of 
fomenting discord, and to have headed a mutiny against the 
young emperor. One cannot be quite sure about it. Gibbon 
seems to think that since Philip was an Arabian he must have 
been a scoundrel, but it does not follow. All we can be sure of 
is that Gordian was slain and that Philip was, by the votes of 
the soldiers, declared emperor in his stead. 

244. Philip I. — M. Julius Philippus was an Arabian by birth. 

He had entered the Roman army and risen to high rank. On 
the death of Timesitheus he was made Praetorian prefect, and 


on the death of Gordian was made emperor. He proclaimed 
his son Caesar, concluded peace with the Persians and returned 
to Rome. At Rome he was favourably received by both Senate 
and people, and as he had been elected by the soldiers there 
seemed some prospect of a long and prosperous reign. But it 
was not so to be. 

The great event of Philip's reign was the celebration of the 248. 
Roman millennium, the thousandth year of her existence as a 
city. The event was celebrated by games of extraordinary 
pomp and magnificence. The religious ceremonies were con- 
ducted in accordance with pagan rites, and were peculiarly 
solemn and impressive. It has been asserted that Philip was 
a Christian, but his participation in the rites and ceremonies 
connected with the games makes this doubtful. It is cer- 
tain, however, that his disposition towards Christianity was 
friendly. Origen, writing during his reign, says that God had 
given the Christians the free exercise of their religion. He 
even spoke hopefully of the ultimate conversion of the empire. 
Another writer says of Philip that he exhibited a genuine and 
religious disposition with regard to the fear of God. 

Scarcely were the games at an end when a mutiny broke 249. 
out among the soldiers in Moesia and Pannouia. A senator 
named Decius, an I Syrian by birth, was dispatched by Philip 
to queU the mutiny. Decius was a man of presence and 
ability, and the soldiers perceiving this put their own leader 
aside and proclaimed him emperor. There is no proof that he 
instigated this disloyalty ; the chances are that he had to 
choose between death and the purple. 

Decius avowed that he was not responsible for what had 
happened, but Philip had no alternative but to take the field. 
Gathering what forces he could, he marched towards the fron- 
tier ; but at Verona he was killed, though whether by assassi- 
nation or on the battle-field is not clear. His son, also named 
Philip, who had the title of Caesar and whom he had left at 
Rome, was assassinated by the Praetorian guards, so that 
Decius had now no rival. 



249. Decius. — Decius now succeeded to the imperial throne. This 
monarch has been lauded for the excellence of his administra- 
tion. As he only reigned for two years we fear that the 
praises of the historian are partly attributable to the fact that 
he initiated a fierce persecution against Christianity. 

We have said that Philip, the former emperor, was well- 
inclined towards the Christians, and that they had much pros- 
perity during his reign. With the accession of Decius all this 
was changed. Partly this has been accounted for by assuming 
that Decius looked upon the Christians as partisans of Philip. 
This may have been, but it would not account for all. We 
think that Decius was probably a convinced pagan, that he 
believed that the Roman empire and paganism must stand or 
fall together, and that he looked upon Christianity as hostile 
to Rome's best interests. He, therefore, determined to crush 
it once for all. 

The persecution was the more terrible because it was so 
unexpected. In many parts of the empire the Churches had 
been undisturbed for thirty years, in some provinces for a yet 
longer period, so that a generation had arisen which scarcely 
knew what persecution meant. 

The persecution which now burst forth was bitter beyond 

measure. The prudent counsel of Trajan that Christians were 

not to be sought out was disregarded, and rigorous search was 

made for all suspected of non-compliance with the State 

religion. The inquisition began at Rome, and extended 

throughout the provinces. 

In every city on receipt of the imperial rescript a day was 



appointed for the Christians to present themselves before the 
magistrate, renounce their relitrion and sacrifice at the altar. 
Some yielded, others stood firm. Those who refused to con- 
form were thrown into prison and tortured. Such as fled 
were outlawed, and had their goods confiscated. The clergy 
wrote : " The world is devastated, the ruins of the fallen are 
on every side". 

The fury of the emperor raged specially against the 
bishops. The bishops of Rome, Antioch, and Jerusalem were 
put to death. Others were exiled or thrown into prison. 
Some withdrew from their sees for a time, hoping that in their 
absence the members of their Churches might be spared. 

The attention of Decius was diverted from the Christians 
by an invasion of the Goths. This is the first time we have 
had occasion to speak of this remarkable race, who would one 
day take rank amongst Rome's greatest enemies. 

There is a province in Sweden called Gothland, and legend 
makes this the cradle of the Gothic people. But it is more 
likely that they were German, that they lived on the southern 
shore of the Baltic, and that they invaded Sweden and settled 
in the province which bears their name. They were of much 
the same race as our Anglo-Saxon forefathers. 

The Goths are first marked historically by Tacitus as 
dwelling at the south-east corner of the Baltic, that is in 
Eastern Prussia. West of the Goths dwelt the Vandals, west 
of the Vandals the Saxons, with whom the Britons had after- 
wards to deal. They were all folk of the same sort, hardy, 
brave and adventurous. 

Nowadays these prolific races find room for enterprise and 
overflow in the United States of America, but in earlier times 
this outlet was not accessible. Accordingly, when population 
became congested the lust of conquest seized them, and they 
sallied forth in huge companies to find room for themselves 
by force of arms. 

From the Baltic where we find the Goths in the days of 
Tacitus they wandered southward to the Black Sea. Perhaps 


this was in the second century. At any rate in the third we 
find them firmly planted there, now divided into three nations, 
the Ostrogoths, or Eastern Goths, the Visigoths, or Western 
Goths, and the Gepidae. 

The plains where they dwelt had been roamed over for cen- 
turies by tribes vaguely called Scythian. These had swarmed 
from Asia, from Tartary and Turkestan. Many Scythians still 
dwelt amongst the Goths. But the Goths themselves were 
Teutons, and had no inclination to proceed eastward. They 
therefore lay on the Black Sea with their faces towards the 
temperate climate of the Roman Empire. 

In the reign of Decius the Goths had a king called Cniva. 

249. He crossed the Danube at Novograd, and fought against Gallus 
the governor of Mcesia and Decius the young Caesar. He then 
laid siege to Philippopolis a very wealthy city. The younger 
Decius came to its relief, but was utterly overthrown. The 
citizens then surrendered, many were massacred and a great 
deal of treasure was taken. It would also seem that Priscus 
the governor of Macedonia, having been taken prisoner, was 
persuaded by the Goths to let them proclaim him emperor in 
opposition to Decius. 

250. Hearing of these things Decius set out from Rome. With 
his departure the persecution of the Christians abated. Priscus 
was killed and for a time all went well. The Goths, partly de- 
moralised by their success at Philippopolis, retreated and ofiered 
to relinquish both captives and spoil if they might go home in 
peace. But Decius would not hear of it, and ordered Gallus to 
get between them and their homes whilst he attacked them 
from behind. A terrible battle was fought in the Dobrudscha. 

251. The Goths, knowing the country better than the Romans, sta- 
tioned themselves near a morass and by feigning flight drew 
the Roman troops into it. Thus trapped they were hopelessly 
beaten. The younger Decius was slain early in the fight. The 
emperor himself with thousands of his followers perished in the 
swamp. His body was never seen again. 


Gallus. — The death of Decius and his son left Gallus the 251. 
commander-in-chief of such forces as survived, and the soldiers 
proclaimed him emperor. With the usual Roman fondness 
for slinging accusations about, one historian accuses Gallus of 
treachery, but that is a cry easily raised after a defeat. 

Though the Goths had been so successful they were glad to 
make peace, and Gallus was glad to make peace with them. 
The terms were hard ; they were to return to their own land 
with their booty and prisoners, and were to receive an annual 
payment from the empire so long as they left the province un- 
disturbed. The Romans were far from satisfied, for it was the 
first time that Rome had actually purchased a peace by paying 
a tribute, but probably Gallus had no alternative. 

The tribes who made the peace were faithful to their agree- 
ment, but others, encouraged by their success and not bound 
by their obligations, swarmed over the Danube and invaded 
lUyria. They were successfully opposed by vEmilianus, the 
governor of Moesia and Pannonia, whose soldiers, flushed with 
victory, hailed him imperator on the battle-field. Gallus set 253. 
out to encounter his revolted oflficer, and had reached the plains 
of Spoleto in Umbria when his soldiers, bribed perhaps by the 
emissaries of ^milianus, revolted, and slew both him and his 

During the short reign of Gallus a terrible pestilence visited 
the empire. It came from Ethiopia, down the valley of the 
Nile, and through the Asiatic and Illyrian provinces to Italy. 
Many provinces were afflicted by pestilence, drought and 
famine, and there was great misery throughout the empire. 
In hope of obtaining deliverance from these calamities an 
edict was issued ordering all persons to sacrifice to the gods. 
It was observed that the Christians did not obey this edict 
and the fury of the populace was directed against them. The 
pestilence lasted for fifteen years, and though it brought per- 
secution and death to many Christians it showed to the pagans 
how kind Christians could be. When the pestilence was at its 
worst and some wretches were even plundering the houses of 


the dying, the Christians extended help to all who needed it. 
In the hope that their enemies might be won by love they 
divided the cities into districts, buried the dead, nursed the 
sick, and alleviated misery as far as their means would allow. 

253, ^MILIANUS, — Though ^Emilianus had been proclaimed em- 

peror by his troops he was not yet acknowledged by the 
Senate. He was still with the troops in Umbria and nego- 
tiating with Rome when a rival arose. At the time when 
Gallus first heard of his revolt he sent the censor Valerian, a 
noble of distinction, to bring the legions of Gaul and Germany 
to his aid. Valerian arrived too late to save Gallus, but he 
determined to avenge him. Accordingly he marched to Spoleto 
and confronted his legions. 

Fortunately a battle was avoided. The forces of Valerian 
were so greatly superior to those of ^Emilianus that the soldiers 
of the latter deserted, slew their leader, and ranged themselves 
under the banner of Valerian. 

253. Valerian. — Gallus and ^Emilianus were dead and P. Lici- 

nius Valerianus was proclaimed emperor by the soldiers, and 
willingly accepted by the Senate. He seems to have been a 
man of acknowledged merit ; but he was now over sixty years 
of age, almost too old to face the difficulties by which the State 
was surrounded. His son Gallienus was proclaimed Augustus 
and became his colleague. 

Many foes were now assailing the empire. The Franks or 
" Freemen " tribes, who lived on the Lower Rhine and Weser, 
were swarming into Gaul . Gallienus went to oppose them. He 
could not drive them back, but he evidently persuaded them to 
change their plans, for they passed through Gaul, crossed the 
.Pyrenees and invaded Spain. Here they remained for some 
years, then they passed across the straits to Mauretania, the 
West African province. They were the first of the northern 
races to invade Africa and their fair hair caused great astonish- 
ment to the natives. 


Trouble came also from the Alemanni, the " All Men," de- 
scendants of the Suevi, who two centuries before had so 
fiercely opposed Julius Ceesar. They now crossed the Alps and 
invaded Italy, advancing as far as Ravenna. Aurelianus, 
afterwards emperor, went against them and restored peace, 
but he had to let them settle south of the Alps. 

Another peril came from the eastern side of the empire. 
We have seen how the Persian monarchy, so long dormant, 
was restored by Artaxerxes. This monarch was succeeded by 
Sapor, an equally able man, who conquered Armenia, captured 
Carrhse and Niblis, and even reached Antioch. Valerian took 
the field in person against this conqueror, and set out with a 
considerable army. But the way was long and the army was 
so weakened by famine and pestilence that Sapor found it 
an easy prey. There is no certainty about the events which 
followed. The Romans seem to have been surrounded and 
captured or slain. Very few escaped. Valerian disappears 260. 
from this time, leaving no trace. 

Gallienus. — P. Licinius Gallienus, who had been co-ruler 
with his father, now reigned alone. Though he has been 
severely censured by critics, as most unsuccessful men are, 
there is no reason to doubt that he was a well-intentioned and 
able man. Only a very great man, indeed, could have grappled 
with the misfortunes which now overtook the empire. 

After the defeat of Valerian, Sapor overran Syria, Cilicia 
and Cappadocia with his victorious arm3^ He sacked Antioch, 
laid Tarsus in ashes, and destroyed Caesarea, the chief city in 
Cappadocia. Returning laden with booty, he received an un- 
expected check at Palmyra. This prosperous and independent 
city was governed by Odenathus, " Prince of the Saracens ". 
The name of Saracen, scarcely known until this time, was 
afterwards applied to the followers of Mohammed and became 
very famous. At present it was applied to the mixed Syrian 
and Arabian tribes over whom Odenathus ruled. 

Odenathus, recognising Sapor's superiority, was willing to 
VOL. II. 13 


be his liegeman and sent him a present. But Sapor received 
his advances with scorn, and thus made him his enemy. Ac- 
cordingly Odenathus harassed the Persians on their homeward 
journey and inflicted heavy loss upon them before they crossed 
the Euphrates. For this service Gallienus gratefully conferred 
upon Odenathus the title of King of Palmyra. Unfortunately, 
Odenathus was assassinated a few years after, whereupon 
Zenobia his wife took possession of the throne as Queen of the 

Whilst the Romans were thus suffering disaster in Persia, 
the Goths were again assailing the empire. We have seen how 
the Gothic tribes spread from Prussia southward until they 
reached the Black Sea, on the northern shores of which they 
settled down. When they found that the Black Sea was a 
lake they built ships, and sailed hither and thither, ravaging 
the cities along its shores. 

Many Goths had settled in the Crimea and its neighbour- 
hood, and there their ships could be well sheltered. One set 
of Goths sailed round the Asiatic coast of the sea, sacked 
Trebizond and returned laden with spoil. Other Goths sailed 
through the Bosphorus, captured Chalcedon and ravaged the 
rich province of Bithynia. Another expedition sailed as 

262. far as Ephesus and plundered the well-known Temple of 

267. Later still, a great expedition captured Byzantium, passed 

through the Sea of Marmora, ravaged the islands of the Archi- 
pelago, and landing in Greece, sacked Corinth, Sparta and 
Athens. Coasting round, the expedition sailed up the Adriatic 
and viewed the coast of Italy. Here they divided, and half 
went home by land across Moesia, the rest returned with the 
fleet through the Black Sea. 

These expeditions caused widespread alarm and misery. 
The condition of the empire was one of deep gloom. Foreign 
tribes were pouring into the provinces in the north ; in Eastern 
Europe the Goths were working their will ; in Asia the Per- 
sians were invincible, and in Egypt civil war was raging. To 


crown all, the pestilence which had so long afflicted the empire 
was still uncontrolled. 

Economically the position of the empire was as bad as it 
could well be. Population had dechned, poverty everywhere 
abounded, taxes could scarcely be collected at all. The coinage 
had been tampered with until it was little more than base 
metal washed with silver. 

Under these distressing circumstances we can hardly won- 
der if the central power was paralysed. The legions on the 
frontier had to do the best they could, every one for itself. 
Their permanent camps had now become towns ; they had 
families and farms, and they had to look out for themselves. 
Moreover the unarmed provincials looked upon the legions as 
their natural protectors. Little wonder if they chose their own 
leaders as " imperatores," and ignored the central power. Thus 
independent princes sprang up in every direction. 

In the reign of Gallienus nineteen of these able officers 
came into existence. They are called " pretenders," and alluded 
to as if they were tyrants and traitors, but this is a misuse of 
terms. Some of them amply justified their existence. In Gaul 
Postumus repulsed the invaders and restored tranquillity to the 
province. He really established a subordinate empire which 
was maintained for a time by his successors, and which gave 
peace and security to Gaul. In the East we have seen how 
Odenathus did good service to the empire. On the Danube 
and in Greece the " pretenders" were not so successful. 

One of the nineteen independent princes was Aureolus. 
He commanded the legions in Illyria, but not content with 
guarding his own province must needs invade Italy. Against 
Aureolus Gallienus marched. He defeated him and besieged 
Milan where he had taken refuge. But when success seemed 
assured to Gallienus a conspiracy was fomented against him 
and he was assassinated. Before he died he nominated Marcus 268. 
Aurelius Claudius as his successor. 

We have described the sorrows of the Christians during 
the reign of Decius, and again when the plague first attacked 


the empire in the reign of Gallus. The year which saw the 
death of Gallus and the succession of Valerian saw the death 
of Origen, a renowned theologian of Alexandria. Though mis- 
taken in some of his views, Origen was a man of high courage 
and deep devotion. During the Decian persecution he was 
tortured, cast into an unhealthy dungeon, and loaded with 
chains. He was afterwards released, but his sufferings killed 
him in the end. He was the first to write a regular commen- 
tary on the Scriptures. 

When Valerian ascended the throne he treated the Christians 
with clemency, but afterwards, falling under the power of the 
pagan priests, he became their bitter enemy. Hoping that if 
their bishops were away the congregations would conform 
he drove the bishops and teachers into exile. Amongst the 
banished was Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, a writer whose 
works have come down to the present day. 

When Valerian found that the congregations still assembled 
he issued a more rigorous edict : — 

258. " Let bishops, presbyters, and deacons be immediately put 

to death by the sword : let senators and knights be first de- 
prived of their rank and possessions, and if they still continue 
Christians, let them suffer the due punishment of death ; let 
women of condition be deprived of their estates and banished. 
Christians in the service of the palace are to be treated as the 
emperor's private property, and distributed to labour in chains 
on the imperial estates" (Neander, i., p. 192). 

Under this edict many suffered. At Rome Bishop Sixtus 
and four deacons were surprised in the act of celebrating Divine 
service in the catacombs and were put to death. Sixtus was 
the fifth Bishop of Rome in succession who had suffered mar- 
tyrdom in eight years. Four days after, Laurentius, another 
deacon, was roasted alive. Bishop Cyprian returned from his 
place of exile to Carthage, and after ministering to the Church 
for twelve months was beheaded. 

260. To the credit of Gallienus be it said that as soon as Vale- 

rian his father was taken prisoner and he reigned alone he 


stopped the persecution. He even issued an edict permitting 
them to worship freely, and restoring their lands, church build- 
ings and cemeteries. Thus he recognised the Christian Churches 
as legal corporations, for only such could hold property accord- 
ing to Roman law. 

In a former chapter we commented upon the strange cir- 
cumstance that certain historians said hard things against the 
emperors who befriended the Christians and lauded those who 
treated them with cruelty. 

No man showed more animosity to the Christians tlian 
Marcus Aurelius who is lauded to the skies. His son Corn- 
modus befriended the Christians and his memory is heaped 
with insult. 

Septimius Severus persecuted the Christians and was a 
fine fellow, his son Caracalla did not persecute and was a 

Philip was an Arabian robber of no merit, but was favour- 
able to Christianity, Decius who succeeded him persecuted 
with fury and was a burning and a shining light. 

Valerian was a most worthy emperor and Valerian per- 
secuted, his son Gallienus abruptly stopped the persecution 
and reinstated the Christians in their privileges as citizens, 
and Gallienus is handed down to posterity as a worthless 

Facts like these are worthj^ of some consideration. In an 
age when historians were too often mere partisans and when 
they belonged to the literary classes to whom the priests also 
belonged, it seems clear that the attitude of the emperor to- 
wards the State religion influenced the attitude of the historian 
towards the emperor. Christianity was no longer the faith of 
a despised few. The edicts of the emperors show what a hold 
it was taking upon society. The State religion was in danger 
and there seems good reason to believe that the worth of the 
monarch was measured primarily by an ecclesiastical standard. 



268. Before Gallienus died he was able to advise his officers to 
choose as his successor Claudius, a general who was command- 
ing an army near Pavia. Claudius was an Illyrian by birth, 
and had risen to distinction under Decius, Valerian, and Gal- 
lienus. Gallienus had shown him no little kindness. To this 
kindness Claudius made but a poor return, for he wrote a 
letter to the Senate in which he insulted the memory of his 
benefactor, and bragged about the wonderful things which he 
himself would accomplish. 

Claudius reigned for two years. During his reign there 
was a vast influx of Goths. They poured into Thrace and 
Macedonia, no longer as raiders but as settlers, bringing their 
wives, their children, and their worldly possessions with them. 
The total number is estimated at 320,000, and they were sup- 
ported on the rivers by 2,000 skiffs. 

Against this host Claudius marched forthwith. A battle 
was fought at Naissus (Nisch) in Servia and the Goths were 
defeated. Such as were neither slaughtered nor captured were 
driven into the Balkans where they speedily perished of cold 
and famine. 

Claudius announced his victory to the governor of Illyricum 
in a bulletin, as follows : " Claudius to Brocchus. — We have 
destroyed 320,000 of the Goths ; we have sunk 2,000 of their 
ships. The rivers are bridged over with shields ; with swords 
and lances all the shores are covered. The fields are hidden 
from sight under the superincumbent bones ; no road is free 
from them ; an immense encampment of waggons is deserted. 



We have taken sucli a number of women that each soldier can 
have two or three concubines allotted to him." 

It would perhaps be too much to expect that Claudius 
should have considered whether there might not be a better 
way of dealing with tribal movements than by wholesale mas- 
sacre. Other emperors had already permitted tribes to settle 
in the empire: could not he have done the same. Clearly 
the Goths had come in the hope of settling and if Claudius 
had met them in a proper spirit all would have been well. 
The Roman Empire was sadly depopulated. There was room 
for all who cared to come. Kindly dealt with the Goths would 
in one or two generations have looked upon the empire as 
their home. 

Some writers give Claudius and men like him great credit 
for their energetic policy. We cannot see matters in this 
light. We believe the policy to have been miserably short- 
sighted and cowardly. There is little more reason for praising 
the policy of Claudius than there would be for praising an 
American president who chose to meet the 400,000 emigrants 
who annually cross the Atlantic with fire and sword. 

If we need not blame emperors overmuch for not under- 
standing better the signs of the times, on the other hand we 
need not commend them for butchering and enslaving hundreds 
of thousands of their fellow-creatures. They did no good to 
the Roman Empire by this policy. They only made it yet 
more hateful and heaped up wrath against the day of wrath. 

That which followed seems almost like retributive justice. 
So vast was the number of unburied corpses that they bred a 
pestilence and Claudius caught it and died. 

AuRELiAN. — Before Claudius died he nominated Lucius 270. 
Domitian Aurelianus as his successor. Aurelian was also an 
Illyrian by birth. He had commanded the army of the 
Danube, and was an excellent soldier. 

The first act of the emperor deserves high commendation. 
The Goths, encouraged by the death of Claudius once more 


pressed into the empire, and Aurelian offered to relinquish 
the province of Dacia to them, doubtless on condition that they 
would not cross the Danube to molest Moesia. He withdrew 
the Roman forces from Dacia, and the Danube became again 
the frontier of the empire. 

By this action the empire was somewhat curtailed in area, 
but this was greatly to its advantage. Dacia became well 
populated, and well cultivated, and as an independent state 
formed a splendid barrier between the empire and the regions 
beyond. The Roman subjects in Dacia either remained under 
Gothic rule or removed south of the Danube, and added 
strength to Moesia and Pannonia. 

Excepting for about ten years during the reign of Con- 
stantine, there was peace after this settlement between Rome 
and the Goths for nearly a centuiy. Had the same wisdom 
been shown elsewhere the empire would have been reduced in 
size, but increased in strength. 

The same methods were not adopted with the Alemanni. 
They invaded Italy on the Rsetian frontier, but were defeated 
and surrounded. A conference was held, but they were 
treated haughtily, and little effort was made to come to terms. 
Accordingly they broke through the Roman cordon, crossed 
the Alps, ravaged Lombardy, and marched towards Rome. 
They defeated the Romans at Placentia, but in Umbria were 
themselves defeated, and hewn to pieces. 

The audacity of the Alemanni in thus advancing on the 
sacred city, caused a panic in Rome, and the fortifications were 
looked into. The walls of Servius Tullius, the original defence 
of the city, had a circuit of seven miles. A new city had 
grown up outside these practically undefended, so walls were 
built enclosing all. The new fortification, known as the wall 
of Aurelian, was twenty-one miles long. 

Aurelian's Eastern policy was not admirable. We have 
seen how Zenobia succeeded her husband Odenathus, becoming 
Queen of Palmyra. She now ruled a considerable portion of 
Syria, and her State served as a buffer between the Roman Em- 


pire and Persia. Zenobia was a woman of rare ability, and 
not unfriendly to Rome. She had indeed given her sons a 
Roman education. She was ambitious and in the neglected 
condition of the empire had become suzerain of provinces 
which theoretically belonged to Rome. But this might have 
been adjusted. The remote Asiatic provinces were a source of 
weakness to the empire, and it would have been better had 
Aurelian strengthened the hands of Zenobia, and fostered her 
State. But this would not have been in accordance with 
Roman traditions. Aurelian determined to destroy Zenobia, 272. 
so he attacked her, defeated her, and besieged her capital. 
When the qiieen saw that resistance was vain she fled, but was 
captured before she could cross the Euphrates. 273. 

PalmjTa now surrendered, and Aurelian, having robbed it 
of its treasures and left a garrison, set out for Italy. On his 
w&y he heard that his garrison had been slain. He returned, 
massacred the inhabitants, and destroyed their city. This was 
the end of Palmyra, A small village took its place, and still 
stands, amidst the ruins of the great city of the past. Thus 
did a short-sighted and over-bearing emperor blot out a beauti- 
ful and useful city, destroy a kingdom which was fulhlling a 
useful purpose, and bring to nought the lifework of a queen 
who was ruling her people with wisdom and acceptance. The 
life of Zenobia was spared, and, after she had graced in chains 
the triumph of her conqueror, she was allowed to end her days 
in comfort at Tivoli. 

Before leaving the East Aurelian crushed out a revolt in 
Egypt where Tirmus, a wealthy paper manufacturer, had be- 
come an independent prince. Having accomplished this 
Aurelian proceeded to Rome. 

About the same time the empire of the Gauls came to an 
end. For some years Gaul had managed its own affairs. It 
became independent under Postumus the governor, who ruled 
well for ten years. Laelianus succeeded him, and after a few 
montlis Victorinus, who reigned for a year. On the death of 
Victorinus, Victoria, his mother, reigned for a time. Thinking 


the weight of empire too great a burden for a woman to bear, 
Victoria unhappily transferred her power to Tetricus. He 
betrayed the Gallic army and province to Rome. His army 
fought fiercely, notwithstanding its betrayal, but was defeated 
at Chalons. Tetricus was rewarded for his villainy with the 
governorship of a province. 

274. Aurelian now returned to Rome for his triumph, and accord- 
ing to the standards of the time he doubtless deserved it. 

Notwithstanding his success Aurelian was unpopular and a 
conspiracy was formed against him in Rome. He crushed it 
with merciless severity. The prisons were thronged and the 
executions were numerous. Shortly after these things Aure- 
lian set out for Persia, perhaps partly to distract people's 
minds and find occupation for his troops. But he had made 

275. irreconcilable enemies, and on his journey he was assassinated 
by members of his stafi". 

275. Tacitus. — The vacancy caused by the death of Aurelian 

was not at once filled. The private soldiers were fond of him 
and angry at the assassination, and they refused to nominate 
any of their officers as his successor, or to permit them to profit 
by Aurelian's death. They therefore referred the matter to 
the Senate and desired that they should make the appoint- 
ment. But this was not easily done. Since it had become the 
fashion to assassinate emperors, the position was not so much 
coveted and six months passed before any one could be per- 
suaded to fill the post. 

At length Marcus Claudius Tacitus was appointed. Tacitus 
was a descendant of the historian, and would have been quite 
suitable for the position had he been twenty years younger. 
But he was seventy-five years of age. Nevertheless, as election 
to the post of emperor seemed practically equivalent to sen- 
tence of death, the Senate doubtless thought that an old man 
had less to lose by accepting the office than a young man would 
have. Perhaps, also, they hoped that the soldiers would respect 
his grey hairs. 


Even old men cling to life, and Tacitus protested vigorously 
against being made emperor, but when his protests were un- 
heeded he bravely accepted the situation and did his best. He 
dealt wisely with some Scythian tribes who had overrun Asia 
Minor. They had a legitimate grievance against Rome, and 
Tacitus, by acknowledging the grievance and meeting them 
with justice and liberality rather than with the sword, induced 
them to retire. Scarcely was the arrangement carried out 
when he died. He had reigned for six months. 

Florianus. — On the death of Tacitus the soldiers were 276. 
divided as to the choice of an emperor, some supporting Flori- 
anus, the half-brother of Tacitus, whilst others rallied round 
Probus, the governor of the East. Florianus marched against 
him but was deserted by so many of his soldiers that he saw 
the hopelessness of his cause, and either slew himself or was 
slain by his own men. 

Probus. — Marcus Aurelius Probus, who now ascended the 276, 
throne, was a native of Sirmium in Pannonia, and forty -four 
years of age. He had distinguished himself as a soldier and 
had been appointed by the Emperor Tacitus governor of the 
East. After the death of Tacitus his soldiers pressed him to 
become emperor, and the Senate approved of their choice. 

The first task undertaken by Probus was the never-failing 
one of freeing Gaul from German settlers. The better to 
accomplish this, he is said to have offered a piece of gold for 
every German head brought in by the soldiers. We read that 
400,000 were thus slain and paid for, but for the sake of our 
common humanity we will hope that this is an exaggeration. 

Probus led an army across the Rhine and as far as the 
Elbe. He contemplated reducing Germany to a province. 
Seeing that this had proved an impossible task in the palmy 
days of the empire, it was scarcely worth his while to attempt 
it. Ultimately he abandoned the idea, and, instead, built a 
high wall, 200 miles long, between the Rhine and the Danube. 


Unless Probus did this for the sake of giving his soldiers 
employment, it was waste of time. Rome was no longer in a 
position to defend a wall of this character, and in a few years 
it was in ruins. 

During the reign of Probus a remarkable voyage was under- 
taken by Franks. Some members of the tribes who lived in 
Holland had been either tempted or coerced into settling upon 
the coast of Pontus. Becoming home-sick they seized a fleet 
which was lying in the Black Sea and set sail. They passed 
through the Sea of Marmora and into the Mediterranean. 
There they sacked several coast ports, including Syracuse. 
Thence they made their way through the Straits of Gibraltar, 
the Bay of Biscay and the North Sea, until they at last 
reached Holland. The voyage was a daring one, and their 
success must have encouraged the spirit of adventure which 
afterwards took such hold upon the tribes dwelling in that 
part of Europe. 

The reign of Probus was not free from civil war. Satur- 
ninus, the commander of the eastern provinces, was proclaimed 
emperor at Alexandria, apparently against his will. Probus 
defeated his forces and would have spared his life, but his own 
soldiers slew him. 

Having conquered his enemies Probus celebrated his vic- 
tories by a triumph of special splendour. On this occasion 
eighty gladiators, reserved with 600 others for the brutal 
sports of the arena, broke from their confinement. They were 
chased and massacred by the soldiers, but not until they had 
sold their lives at a high price. 

Doubtless with laudable intentions, Probus endeavoured to 
utilise the idle moments of his soldiers by employing them 
upon works of public utility. But the life of soldiering does 
not fit men for patient toil, and they resented this interference 
with their leisure. At last, being set to drain the marshes of 
Sirmium, a feverish and disagreeable task, they mutinied, and 
slew the emperor. 


CarUvS. — Carus, PraBtorian prefect under Probiis, was elected 282. 
emperor in his stead. As he was sixty years of age, he asso- 
ciated his sons Carinus and Numerian with himself in the 
government. Carus was an able man, somewhat of a Spartan 
in his habits. 

Leaving Carinus to take care of the West, Carus marched 
against the Persians, Numerian, his younger son, being with 
him. He ravaged Mesopotamia and the cities of Seleucia, and 
Ctesiphon surrendered. But one night a thunderstorm burst 
upon the camp, and Carus died, but whether by a natural 
death, for he was ill at the time, by lightning, or by the hand 
of the assassin, we cannot say. 

The soldiers, who were informed that the emperor had been 
struck by lightning, demanded that the war should be aban- 
doned, and Numerian started with them on the homeward 
journey. On the way he also died under suspicious circum- 
stances. For his death Aper, his father-in-law, was blamed, 
but it is not easy to discern any substantial motive for such a 
deed. He could scarcely have hoped to succeed Numerian 
seeing that Carinus was upon the throne. 

Carinus. — When Carus died his son Carinus, who had 283. 
been associated with him in the empire, and had remained in 
charge of the West, was recognised at Rome as his successor. 
Numerian was, as we have seen, returning with the army 
from the East, but the brothers never met again. 

During the tumult that followed the death of Numerian, 284. 
the army of the East proclaimed Diocletian emperor. Aper, 
father-in-law of Numerian, was placed upon his trial, but 
Diocletian, with a fine show of righteous indignation, slew him 
before he could open his mouth in his defence. 

The action of Diocletian was most suspicious, and leads us 
to fear that he was at least partly responsible for the death of 
Numerian and, perhaps, also of Carus. He was captain of the 
body-guard, and little could presumably have been done 
without his concurrence. 


Hearing what had happened Carinus set out to meet 
Diocletian. Carinus had a good army and was an energetic 
man. He gained early success, and won what seemed a de- 
cisive battle at Margus, a town in Moesia, near the Danube. 
But after the battle, and in the midst of victory, Carinus was 
assassinated. The vices of Carinus are given as the reason for 
the assassination, but it is easy to blacken the character of an 
unsuccessful man. Had Diocletian died after the battle and 
Carinus continued to reign we wonder what the verdict of the 
historian would have been. 



When Diocletian ascended the throne the condition ot" the 284. 
Roman Empire was far from satisfactory. The frontier ter- 
ritories had sullered greatly from the ravages of war, the 
central districts had not been entirely spared. Italy had been 
invaded, and the capital had been so seriously menaced that 
new fortifications had become imperative. War, famine, and 
pestilence had thinned the population, lands lay waste, towns 
were almost without inhabitant. Poverty abounded, taxes 
were collected with extreme difficulty. The empire was dis- 
solving, and if Diocletian by the new methods of government 
which he introduced postponed the hour of dissolution even for 
a time it must be remembered to his credit. 

Diocletian was an lUyrian, about forty years of age, who 
had served under Probus, Aurelian, and Carus. After the 
deaths of Numerian and Carinus he had no rival. He was a 
politician as well as a soldier and had sane ideas about govern- 

Diocletian was the first emperor who looked facts squarely in 
the face and acknowledged that the vast area of the Roman 
Empire could not be ruled from one centre. Though the period 
of transition was a lengthy one the partition of the Roman Em- 
pire into East and West may be said to date from his reign. 
Of course there had been assistant emperors before, but terri- 
torial division and the deliberate sharing of the responsibilities 
of government, so that each man became a sovereign within his 
allotted area, had not been before attempted. 

Diocletian began his reforms by associating with himself 286. 

Maximian as colleague. Maximian was a Pannonian, a rough 



man, but a most capable soldier. To Maximian he allotted the 
northern frontiers, and the care of the Western portion of the 
empire, whilst he himself governed the East. Theoretically the 
emperors were equal, but Diocletian had practically by right 
of priority a superiority in rank, and he always maintained a 
mental and moral ascendency over his colleague. Strictly co- 
ordinate jurisdiction was in fact not part of Diocletian's scheme, 
he always intended that no matter how many emperors there 
might be one should be supreme. 

In a few years it became clear that even two emperors did 
not suffice to grapple with the Roman problem so two subor- 
dinate emperors, " Caesars," were added. The men chosen 
293. were Galerius and Constantius, of whom the former married 
Valeria, daughter of Diocletian, the latter Theodora, step- 
daughter of Maximian. The empire was partitioned amongst 
the four ; Diocletian taking control of Thrace, Egypt, Syria 
and Asia Minor ; Maximian of Italy and Africa ; Galerius of 
the Danubian provinces and Illyricum ; Constantius of Britain, 
Gaul and Spain. Each ruler had sovereign executive power, 
but Galerius and Constantius had no legislative power, nor had 
they power over the imperial revenue, nor the right of appoint- 
ing imperial officers. Their military powers also were sub- 
ordinate to Diocletian and Maximian, who triumphed for their 

Thus there were four distinct centres of political life and 
the empire became for a time federal. Doubtless by agreement 
not one of the sovereigns lived in Rome. Diocletian made 
Nicomedia, a city of Bithynia, his capital ; Maximian lived in 
Milan ; Galerius at Sirmium ; Constantius at Treves. 

The city of Rome was hard hit by these arrangements. Of 
the four sovereigns not one was Roman or had any special 
sympathy with Rome. Diocletian never visited the capital as 
emperor until he went to celebrate his triumph. He had then 
been ruling for nearly twenty years. The city that had dom- 
ineered over the world and concentrated all power within her 
walls was now pushed aside. The Senate lost such power and 

Diocletian 209 

consideration as it still enjoyed. The Praetorian guards, who 
had wrought so much mischief in Rome, were abolished and in 
their place two regiments kept the peace. This alteration in 
the position of the city of Rome was permanent and it was the 
most important issue of Diocletian's rule. 

The imperial authority was now entirely emancipated from 
constitutional limitation. The emperor was autocrat pure and 
simple. Diocletian assumed the state of an Oriental sovereign. 
He wore a diadem, his palace attendants were eunuchs, visitors 
prostrated themselves before his throne. 

Italy and Rome were finally reduced to the level of the 
provinces. A uniform system of administration was estab- 
lished throughout the empire, controlled by the emperor and 
his ministers. The new system was more expensive perhaps 
than the earlier. There were four imperial courts, and a 
greater number of important officers. In the presence of much 
poverty this was of consequence. Yet the greater efficiency 
must have been an ample compensation. 

In many respects the new system was an obvious improve- 
ment. The soldiers of the rival armies were better satisfied, 
since each army had now its own imperator. The risk of 
assassination was less for it was hardly worth killing one man 
out of four. The risk of disputed succession was less, for 
the crown princes were ready to step into the emperors' places 
when they passed away. Doubtless also the various localities 
received more attention and profited from the fact that their 
ruler was at hand. Diocletian's system could not give per- 
manent satisfaction, for it did not restore to the people the 
right of self-government of which they had been deprived. 
But the new system was an improvement, and though it did 
not endure yet it tided the empire over its immediate difficul- 
ties and prolonged its life for a time. 

Before the appointment of Galerius and Constantius several 

important things had happened. In Gaul there had been a 

serious rebellion. The Gallic peasantry had long been treated 

with much cruelty. They were mere serfs, slaves indeed, often 
VOL. II. 14 


working in fetters for the benefit of Gallic nobles and Roman 
colonists. They rose in arms against their oppressors, and 
were so successful that their leaders ventured to assume im- 
perial functions. But Maximian's legions crushed them and 
their condition seemed more hopeless than ever. 

In Britain there was also revolution. It arose in a most 
unexpected way. The Franks and Saxons, who dwelt on the 
coasts bordering the North Sea, had taken to piracy on a 
large scale, and were roaming the seas and ravaging the coasts 
of Britain and Gaul. Diocletian and Maximian accordingly 
appointed Carausius, a hardy seaman, as admiral in that region, 
with the duty of guarding the coasts and suppressing piracy, 
Carausius made Boulogne his head-quarters and built a fleet 
with which he did good service. So emboldened was he with 
his success that he revolted, threw off the authority of the 

288. emperors, seized Britain and assumed the purple. He held 
his own for seven years and may be spoken of as the first 
British emperor, though he was not in any true sense the 
head of a British nation. Medals struck during his reign are 
still extant. Besides governing Britain, Carausius held Bou- 
logne and the adjacent districts. His fleets commanded the 
Channel and the North Sea and even sailed into the Mediter- 

290. For a time Diocletian and Maximian recognised Carausius 

and professed to accept him as a colleague. But the recogni- 
tion was only meant to be temporary. When they appointed 
Galerius and Constantius as Caesars, it was understood that 
the latter would destroy Carausius. 

Constantius proceeded to carry out his task with much de- 
liberation. First he blockaded Boulogne, building a mole 
across the harbour-mouth, and then besieging the city from 
the land. Boulogne defended itself with obstinacy, but was at 
length captured and with it a considerable portion of the 
British fleet. 

Constantius then spent three years in securing the coasts 
of Gaul and in preparing a fleet for the invasion of Britain. 


Whilst these arrangements were in progress Carausius was 
assassinated and succeeded by Allectus his lieutenant. When 294. 
Constantius was ready he despatched his fleet and it made a 
successful landing somewhere west of the Isle of Wight. 
Allectus was lying with his army near London and he hurried 
west to meet the invaders. He was defeated and slain and 296. 
the fate of the island was decided in a single battle. When 
Constantius shortly after landed in Kent all opposition was over. 

There were also about this time revolts at Carthage and in 
Egypt. The former was in Maximian's jurisdiction and was 
speedily quelled. The Egyptian revolt was more serious. It 
lay in Diocletian's sphere and he invaded Egypt and besieged 
Alexandria. The siege lasted for eight months. When the 
city fell he treated both it and the rest of Egypt with great 
severity. This was natural, but we cannot sufficiently regret 
his conduct in ordering the destruction of as many scientific 
books as could be found in Egypt. He was particularly severe 
upon those which dealt with alchemy, the precursor of modern 
chemistry. The Egyptians were deeply versed in this science, 
and Diocletian, by his barbarism, probably threw back chemical 
science for many centuries. 

The war in Egypt was followed by war in Persia. When 
Armenia was conquered by Sapor I., Tiridates, the infant heir 
to the Armenian throne, was carried to Rome for safety and 
education. In the fulness of time this prince was produced, 
appointed by Diocletian to the Armenian throne and sent back 
to his own country to foment rebellion. 

At first Tiridates was successful, but afterwards he was 
driven out by the Persians. Diocletian then sent Galerius 
with a great army to enforce his will. Galerius made the 
mistake Crassus had made centuries before, and took the de- 296. 
sert route to Mesopotamia, The result was equally disastrous. 
In the sandy desert the heavily armed Roman was no match 
for the Persian light cavalry with their bows and arrows, and 
they were shot down in thousands. Galerius escaped with a 


297. Next year Galerius again set forth, but this time advanced 

by way of Armenia, where the Romans could light under 
better conditions. They were now more than a match for 
their enemies, and compelled them to agree to a humiliating- 
peace. Persia ceded Mesopotamia and five provinces beyond 
the Tigris to Rome, The Khabour became the boundary of 
the empire, and Tiridates was restored to the Armenian tlirone. 
The treaty was not likely to be permanent, but it kept the 
peace for a time, 

302. After these victories Diocletian and Maximian triumphed 
in Rome. The incident is noteworthy, as this was almost the 
last grand triumph celebrated in that city. Rome had already 
ceased to be the capital, and soon her emperors ceased to 

Sad to relate, the reign of Diocletian — a wise reign in 
many respects — was disgraced by the most terrible persecu- 
tion which Christianity had yet endured. During his early 
years the emperor did not manifest any hostility to the Church. 
His wife and daughter were Christians, as well as many others 
in the palace. There were also Christians in the army, both 
among the officers and the privates. 

Soldiers were excused from taking part in heathen sacri- 
fices, even though they might be on duty when the sacrifices 
were being offered. On certain occasions the priests com- 
plained that the rites lost their efficacy because of the presence 
of Christians — profane persons, as they termed them. Dio- 
cletian now issued an order that all who lived in the palace 
should sacrifice to the gods, and that soldiers should either 
sacrifice or leave the army. Many officers at once threw up 
their commissions and soldiers retired from the ranks. Dio- 
cletian was very angry, and one centurion named Marcellus 
was beheaded, but the persecution did not go farther for the 

303, In the nineteenth year of his reign Diocletian was visited 
at Nicomedia by Galerius, his son-in-law. Galerius came to 
deliberately propose measures for the extirpation of Christi- 


anity. To us this suggestion seems terrible and inexcusable, 
but perhaps we should in fairness to the persecutors remember 
certain things. 

Galerius and Diocletian were pagans from their youth. 
The good old Roman religion, " the religion of their fathers," 
as Galerius would doubtless term it, was being crushed out by 
this upstart faith. The Christian Church was becoming 
stronger every day, and its bishops were in many places more 
influential than the prefects. It was apparently becoming a 
dangerous imperium in imperio. Unless something were 
done, and done speedily, the Church would not only thrust 
aside paganism, but would dominate the empire itself. There 
must be immediate action and there must be no half measures. 
Perhaps this is how men like Diocletian and Galerius would 
have viewed the matter. So they fought Christianity and 
fought it fiercely, but Christianity won the day. 

Diocletian was at first very unwilling to persecute on any- 
thing like the scale which Galerius advocated. He called a 
council to discuss the matter. But the council voted with 
Galerius, and when he consulted the soothsayers they gave the 
same advice. He yielded, but stipulated that no life should be 

The campaign against Christianity began by the demolition 
of the church in Nicomedia. The soldiers, after vainly search- 
ing for an image of the Christian's God, burned the sacred 
books which they found and pulled the church down. Next 
day an edict was published. All Christians were to abjure 
their faith or be degraded, deprived of civil rights, debarred 
from bringing actions in the courts. They were liable to be 
examined by torture. All sacred writings were to be delivered 
up and burned, the churches were to be demolished and Church 
property was confiscated. A gentleman who tore down the 
edict in indignation was arrested and roasted to death before 
a slow fire. 

The edict was published throughout the provinces and it 
created the utmost consternation. Christianity had made 


much progress and had its converts amongst all classes of 
the people. 

Some magistrates carried out the edict willingly, some 
sought to evade it. Vast numbers of sacred books were 
burned, and this deplorable fact explains why there are so few 
manuscripts dating before the reign of Diocletian. Earlier 
emperors had tried to destroy Christianity by removing the 
bishops and teachers, Diocletian and Galerius tried to ex- 
tinguish it by getting rid of its sacred books. So little did 
the enemies of Christianity understand what it really meant. 

Scarcely had the persecution begun when an untoward 
event happened in Nicomedia. The palace caught fire twice 
within a fortnight and the emperor's bedroom was in danger. 
The Christians were blamed, but it is just as likely that the 
work was done by their enemies. Galerius was still in Nico- 
media, and knowing that Diocletian was half-hearted he may 
have wanted to push him on. Galerius now left Nicomedia, 
declaring that his life was in danger, and Diocletian began to 
persecute more fiercely. There was now no stipulation about 
sparing life. His wife and daughter were compelled to con- 
form, and court officials were burned, beheaded and drowned. 

A second edict ordered that all Church officers should be 
cast into prison. When the prisons were so crowded with 
Church officers that there was no room for malefactors a 
further edict ordered that torture should be used to compel 
the prisoners to worship the gods. A final edict extended the 
penalties to the entire body of Christians. 

The persecutors evidently looked upon these edicts as de- 
cisive, for medals were struck to commemorate the triumph of 
Diocletian over Christianity. 

The persecution happily did not rage over the whole em- 
pire. Constantius, who ruled in the West, was favourable to 
Christianity, so that Britain, Gaul and Spain were compara- 
305. tively free. But as it was necessary to issue the edict, which 
applied to the whole empire, and to appear to obey it, Con- 
stantius pulled down a few churches to save appearances, 


When, however, shortly afterwards, Diocletian and Maximian 
abdicated, and Constantius became himself an emperor, he 
boldly protected the Church in the Western provinces. Over 
the rest of the empire the persecution went on. 

" From East to West," writes Lactantius, an eye-witness, 
" except in Gaul, three ravenous wild beasts (Diocletian, Max- 
imian and Galerius) raged incessantly. In the East, under 
Galerius, the common mode of torture was burning at a slow 
fire. The Christians were fastened to a stake ; at first a mode- 
rate flame was applied to the soles of the feet ; then torches 
were applied to all their limbs, so that no part of the body 
should escape. All the while water was poured upon their 
faces and mouths lest they should expire too soon ; and when at 
length after hours of agony the heat penetrated to their vitals 
the dead bodies were burned, their bones ground to powder 
and thrown into the water." 

The persecution was not the work of the people, but of the 
officials and priests. Many of the pagan citizens sympathised 
^^ ith the Christians in their distress and imperilled their own 
lives by trying to save them. 

In the twenty-first year of his reign Diocletian abdicated. 305. 
He was only about sixty years of age, but he was ill, and de- 
sired to pass the rest of his life in quietness. He had built a 
magnificent palace at Salona, on the Adriatic, and to this he 
retired. He lived about ten years longer, the precise date of 
his death being uncertain. 

When Diocletian retired he insisted on Maximian also re- 
tiring and Maximian obeyed him, though much against his 
will. Thus the supreme power passed to the two Caesars, 
Constantius and Galerius. 



305. With the abdication of Diocletian and Maximian, the Caesars, 
Constantius and Galerius, became emperors, the former ruling 
the West, the latter the East. Galerius was Diocletian's son- 
in-law and had much influence over him, so that he was 
allowed to nominate both the succeeding Caesars. He chose 
Maximinus, his nephew, and Severus, allotting to the former 
Syria and Egypt, to the latter Italy and Africa, He himself 
had control over Illyricum and Asia Minor, whilst Constantius 
continued to rule over Britain, Gaul and Spain. But in 
making this settlement he left out two men whose interests 
should have been considered, Constantine, the son of Con- 
stantius, and Maxentius, the son of Maximian. 

Constantine, known afterwards to history as Constantine 
the Great, was the son of Constantius. When Constantius 
was chosen by Diocletian as a Caesar and went to live in Gaul, 
Constantine was serving with Galerius. He remained in his 
service and was quickly promoted. He was handsome and 
popular, and Diocletian designed that he should be one of the 
crown princes when his father became emperor. 

When Galerius passed over Constantine he took alarm and 
determined to join his father. He therefore left Nicomedia 
hurriedly and travelled post haste to Gaul. He found his 
father at Boulogne, on the point of departure for Britain, so 
he joined the expedition. 

306. When, shortlj^ afterwards, Constantius died at York, Con- 
stantine was present, and the soldiers proclaimed him emperor. 
He sent word to Galerius who, though he was exasperated, 

could not mend matters. He contented himself therefore with 



allott/infr the higher title to Severus and nominating Constan- 
tine a Caesar. Constantine wisely accepted the compromise. 
It made little real difference. He continued to administer the 
provinces his father had administered, and reckoned his sue- * 
cession as emperor from his father's death. He resided at 
Treves, as his father had done, and governed well. 

Maximian, who had abdicated with reluctance, was in- 
censed because his son Maxentius had been passed over in the 
new settlement, and Maxentius was equally angry. Together 
therefore they fomented rebellion amongst the guards and 
people of Rome. The Romans were the more ready for re- 
bellion as they had been neglected for many years. When 
therefore Maxentius, who was then residing near Rome, pro- 
mised to remedy their grievances, they gladl}'' proclaimed him 

Maxentius was not himself a brilliant soldier, but Maximian, 306. 
his father, who came eagerly to his help, made up for his de- 
ficiencies in that respect. At the request of the Senate 
Maximian again assumed the imperial purple. 

As Italy lay in the dominions allotted to Severus, it was 
his duty to oppose Maxentius. Accordingl}?- he marched into 
Italy, but the father and son were too strong for lijjn ; his 
legions deserted him and he fell back on Ravenna : where he 
surrendered and put an end to his life. 

Galerius, perceiving that immediate action was imperative, 
gathered a powerful army and invaded Italy. But Maximian 
had fortified the cities and he could effect nothing. When 
therefore he had advanced within sixty miles of Rome he 
perceived the danger of his position and retreated with some 
precipitation. Maximian was in Gaul and Maxentius con- 
tented himself with hanging upon the rear of the retreating- 
army. He avoided a general engagement. 

As a last resource Galerius appealed to Diocletian. The 
old emperor consented to a conference, and promised to use 
his interest with Maximian. The conference was held at 
Carnuntum, Maximian and Galerius being present. At the 307, 


conference Diocletian again persuaded Maximian to abdicate. 
It was decided that Licinius, a comrade of Galerius, should be 
made an emperor, and that Maxentius should be excluded from 
• the succession. Seeing that Maximian and Maxentius were at 
the head of a victorious army, there was little chance of the 
arrangement being carried out. 

After the conference Maximian visited Constantine in Gaul, 
confirmed the title of Augustus which he had probably already 
assumed, and gave him his step-daughter Fausta in marriage. 

Meanwhile Maximinus, the nephew of Galerius, whom he 
had made a Cassar, determined not to be behind the others in 
dignity, and assumed the purple. Thus there were at one 
time six men claiming the imperial title, besides Diocletian, 
who was in retirement : Maximian, Galerius, Constantine, 
Maxentius, Licinius and Maximinus. 

Though Maximian, who was now an old man, had pro- 
fessed to abdicate he hungered after power, and was looked 
upon by the others as a somewhat dangerous character. His 
son Maxentius, impatient of his interference, drove him from 
Rome. He retired to Illyricum, but Galerius drove him 
thence. He then took refuge in Gaul with Constantine his 
son-in-law. In Gaul he might have ended his daj^s in peace, 
but during the absence of Constantine at the Rhine he some- 
what too readily believed a rumour of his death, and attempted 
to seize the throne. Constantine returned quickly and chased 
him to Marseilles. He surrendered and was imprisoned for a 
310. time, but exhausted Constantine's patience, and at length died 
in prison, probably by command. 

One emperor had passed away, but five remained. Of 
these Galerius died in the following year. He had been a 
311- hard man, and was the one chiefly responsible for the persecu- 
tion of the Christians in Diocletian's reign. But he became 
afflicted at last by a grievous disease, and it softened him, for 
a few days before his death he revoked his edicts against the 
Christians and besought their prayers. 

There were now four emperors: Constantine and Maxen- 


tius dividing the western, Licinius and Maximinus dividing 
the eavstern portions of the empire. 

Constantine and Maxentius were the first to fall out. The 
origin of the quarrel is disputed, but both emperors raised 
large armies and prepared for serious conflict. Constantino 
crossed the Alps, and the first battle was fought in the plains 
of Turin. Maxentius was heavily defeated, and fell back on 
Rome. Constantine again advanced, and a great battle was 
fought at Saxa Rubra. Maxentius was again defeated, and in 312. 
the retreat was drowned. 

The Romans received Constantine with gladness, and as 
usual heaped insults upon the memory of his unfortunate pre- 
decessor. Constantine slew the sons of Maxentius, but as 
regards the rest passed an act of oblivion. He also erected a 
triumphal arch which still stands. 

There were now three emperors, Constantine, Licinius, and 
Maximinus. Constantine desired alliance with Licinius, and 
gave him his sister Constantia in marriage. Whilst the 
nuptials were being celebrated at Turin, word came that 
Maximinus had marched from Syria, and was invading the 
dominions of Licinius. Licinius hurried back and defeated 
him. Shortly afterwards he died at Tarsus. After his death 313. 
Licinius barbarously slew his relatives, together with all whom 
he deemed inimical to himself. Amongst those who perished 
were Prisca, the wife of Diocletian, and Valeria his daughter, 
widow of Galerius. Prisca and Valeria were Christians and 
had suffered many things, both from Diocletian and Galerius. 
After the death of Galerius, Maximinus had tried to persuade 
Valeria to marry him, though he had a wife alive. She re- 
fused, so he drove her with her mother into exile. Their 
murder by Licinius was a piece of inexplicable barbarity. 
Diocletian was still alive, living in retirement at Salona. He 
died this same year, his last hours doubtless embittered by the 
cruelty of Licinius. 

The Roman world was now divided between two emperors, 
Constantine and Licinius. They also fell out, and East and 


314. West joined issue. The civil war was soon over. In two 
battles, at Cibalis in Pannonia, and at Mardia in Thrace, Con- 
stantine gained decisive victories, and Licinius sued for peace. 
Constantine granted peace, but curtailed his dominions, leaving 
him only Thrace, Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt. 

Constantine had now to turn his attention to the northern 
tribes. He spent several years warring against them, con- 
quered Sarmatia, and made a treaty with the Goths by which 
they undertook to furnish him with 40,000 recruits to the 
Roman armies. 

323. The reconciliation between the emperors lasted for eight 

years, after which war broke out again. Licinius concentrated 
his forces at Adrianople, Constantine mobilised at Thessalonica. 
Then Constantine advanced, defeated Licinius, and drove him 
out of Europe into Asia. Licinius gathered another army in 
Bithynia, and Constantine, crossing the Bosphorus, defeated 
him at Scutari. Licinius then yielded, on the understanding 
that his life should be spared. He was sent to Thessalonica, 
but an excuse was soon found for his execution. 

The Roman Empire was now reunited, and Diocletian's 
scheme had in great measure fallen to the ground. He had 
divided the imperial authority amongst colleagues, subject to 
the general control of the senior emperor. So long as his 
powerful hand guided all, the arrangement answered, but no 
sooner had he abdicated than trouble began. Twenty years of 
conflict followed, and now the failure of the plan was apparent. 
When, after some years the empire was again divided, the 
idea of a single central authority was absent. 

We have spoken of the persecution of Christians under 

^ Diocletian. Shortly after his abdication persecution ceased in 

307. the western provinces, but Galerius and Maximinus still carried 
on a reign of terror in the East. Most of those who are cele- 
brated as Diocletian martyrs suffered between 308 and 311 a.d. 
that is, after the abdication of the emperor. 

311. At length Galerius himself gave up the struggle and issued 

an edict of toleration, In this edict he reproached the Chris- 


tians with forsaking the gods of their fathers, and explained 
how the emperors had tried to bring them back to the true 
faith. He acknowledged that their efforts had been in vain, 
and declared that so long as the Christians did nothing con- 
trary to the good order of the Roman State they might hold 
their assemblies unmolested, and live quietly in their own 
homes. Shortly after issuing this edict, Galerius died. 

The deliverance of the Christians filled them with joy. 
From prison and exile they flocked homeward singing hymns of 
thanksgiving. Maximinus continued to harass them, but from 
this they were soon delivered by his death. In the previous 
year Maxentius had been defeated and slain so that Constantine 
and Licinius divided the empire between them. Then came 
the defeat and death of Licinius, and Constantine ruled alone. 



CoNSTANTiNUS I. was the eldest son of the Emperor Con- 
stantius Chlorus and his wife Helena. He was born 274 a.d. 
at Naissus in Moesia. His father was one of the two Caesars 
appointed by Diocletian and Maximian in 292, and received 
the government of Britain, Gaul and Spain, with Treves as 
his residence. At the same time he divorced his wife Helena 
and married Theodora, the step-daughter of Maximian. 

Helena, therefore, remained in the East whilst her former 
husband was reigning at Treves. Constantine also remained 
in the East. He did not seriously quarrel with his father about 
the divorce, for his father acted under irresistible influence, but 
there was an estrangement. Constantine was deeply attached 
to his mother, and the unkindness to which she was subjected 
drew them together. When Constantine became emperor in 
after years he promoted his mother to high honour, giving her 
the rank of Augusta. Helena was in her later years a devout 
Christian, but whether she became a Christian before or after 
her son's conversion is not certain. Her influence over him, 
however, was always for good. 

Constantine was trained in the service of Diocletian and 
Galerius, and developed into a brave and capable man. When 
305. Diocletian and Maximian abdicated and Galerius and Con- 
stantius became emperors, the nomination of the new Caesars 
fell into the hands of Galerius. Constantine was passed over, 
and seeing that there was no future for him with Galerius, 
and that his life was barely safe he escaped to Gaul. He 
found his father sailing for Britain on an expedition against 



the Picts and joined him. That same year his father, who had 
been ailing for some time, died at York. 306. 

Constautine now laid claim to a share in the empire and 
the legions enthusiastically supported him. Galerius dared 
not contest the matter so he acknowledged Constantine as his 
father's successor but with the title of Csesar only. That 
same year as we have seen Maximian and Maxentius seized 
the imperial power at Rome, and held Italy against both 
Severus and Galerius, A conference with Diocletian followed 
of which the only practical issue was the appointment of 307. 
another emperor, Licinius, a comrade of Galerius. 

Five years after these events, when Galerius from his 311, 
death-bed issued the edict of toleration of which we have 
already spoken, Constantine and Licinius both signed it. 

The incidents accompanying the death of the old emperor 
Maximian have already been recorded. After his death 
Constantine fell out with Maxentius, his brother-in-law, and 
invaded Italy, He defeated him at Turin, and again at Saxa 
Rubra, and in the latter battle Maxentius was slain. 312, 

A picturesque account is given of a vision which Constantine 
is said to have had on his march against Maxentius. Per- 
plexed in his mind he is said to have seen a luminous cross in 
the sky with the words " By this conquer," and this vision is 
said to have decided him to become a Christian, If we hesitate 
to believe the narrative it is not because we doubt the pos- 
sibility of a vision but because we do not think the Redeemer 
of mankind would have encouraged war at all, by vision or 
otherwise. Probably Constantine passed through a time of 
anxiety on the march and spoke to his friends about it. The 
rest would soon be added. Lactantius, a contemporary his- 
torian, says : " Constantine was told in a dream to cause the 
heavenly sign of God to be placed on the shields, and thus 
to proceed to battle. He did as he was commanded." This 
puts the matter in a reasonable light. 

The year following Licinius visited Constantine in Milan 313. 
and married his sister Constantia. During this visit the fa- 


mous edict of Milan went forth. It emanated from Constantine, 
but Licinius concurred. 

The edict of Milan proclaimed full religious toleration, alleg- 
ing the sacred rights of conscience as its motive. It gave no 
ascendency to Christianity, but declared liberty of worship to 
Pagan, Jew and Christian alike. 

The edict ordained that the civil and religious rights of 
which the Christians had been deprived should be restored; 
that the places of worship and lands which had been confiscated 
should be given back ; and that every man should have the 
right to follow the religion which he preferred. 

Strict obedience to the terms of the edict was enjoined upon 
governors of provinces, and the emperors gratefully acknow- 
ledging the Divine favour, declared that they were only 
actuated by a desire to propitiate the Deity and consult the 
happiness of their people. 

Great part of the charm of this edict lay in its non-dog- 
matic form. When Constantine in after years avowed himself 
the patron of Christianity he published edicts specially in its 
favour. The edict of Milan was not of that type. It did not 
patronise Christianity nor condemn any other faith. It simply 
acknowledged that the civil power should not step between 
man and God. Every one might worship the Deity as his 
conscience dictated, and no one was to be under civil disability 
on account of his religious views. This was the true Christian 
spirit, the spirit of Him who said : " My kingdom is not of 
this world ". So far as we are aware Constantine was the first 
civil ruler to boldly affirm this principle, and though he after- 
wards departed from it and many centuries were to pass before 
the principle would be accepted, if indeed it is yet accepted, 
Constantine deserves credit for its annunciation. Whether 
Constantine truly understood all that Christianity implied at 
this time we may doubt. But we do not doubt that the edict 
of Milan was inspired. 

During the years that followed this edict Constantine's 
laws had a distinctly religious tone. He discouraged, though 


he could not entirely prevent, gladiatorial shows ; abolished the 
punishment of crucifixion, and on some occasions refused to 
take part in pagan rites. He retained, however, the office of 
Pontifex Maximus, and took part in heathen ceremonies when 
they came in the form of imperial functions. He promoted 
the emancipation of slaves,, enacting that they might be freed 
in church as well as before the magistrate. He even issued an 
edict concerning the observance of Sunday, but this was prob- 
ably on general rather than on Christian grounds. That the 
edict might not offend his pagan subjects he styled the Lord's 
day dies solis (Sunday). Necessary operations of agriculture 
were made an exception. Constantine issued a form of prayer 
to the Supreme Being for the use of the army, wisely making 
it of such a nature that it could be used by men of every 

The prayer was as follows : — 

" We acknowledge Thee to be the only God : we own Thee 
as our King : we entreat Thine aid. Through Thee we have 
won our victories : through Thee we vanquish our foes. We 
give Thee thanks for all our present benefits, and trust in Thee 
for favours yet to come. We are all Thy suppliants : we 
beseech Thee to preserve to us in length of life, in safety and 
in triumph, our Emperor Constantine and his royal house" 
(Eusebius, Life of Constantine, bk. iv., chap. xx.}. 

Unfortunately Constantine did not confine himself to the 
removal of the disabilities under which Christians suffered, but 
went on to distinguish the Christian Church by special marks 
of royal favour. He endowed churches from public funds or 
from revenues derived from the confiscation of heathen temples, 
made gifts of public money to the clergy, and endeavoured to 
relieve them from taxation. 

Constantine further permitted the bishops to usurp the 

jurisdiction of the civil courts, allowed the clergy to receive 

deathbed gifts and to hold lands. This policy, well meant but 

most unwise, has brought confusion into many States, and, 

even in his own reign, Constantine perceived that he had made 
VOL. II. 15 


a mistake. Unworthy men received ordination merely in 
order that they might enjoy the privileges and immunities of 
ecclesiastics, and great masses of property fell into the hands 
of the Church. It was said that had Constantine presented 
the Churches with two entire provinces they would not have 
gained more than they did under his legislation. 
313. Constantine's first personal interference with matters of 

ecclesiastical jurisdiction was in connection with a dispute in 
the Numidian province. There was a controversy there con- 
cerning Church discipline, between the Donatists and those 
whom we may for convenience call the Catholics. The Dona- 
tists strongly advocated a pure Church, and refused to recog- 
nise many professing Christians as members of the Church of 
Christ at all. 

The Donatists, persecuted by Caecilian their bishop, made 
the mistake of invoking the aid of Constantine. Their petition 
to the emperor closed as follows : — 

" We address ourselves to thee, most excellent prince, be- 
cause thou art of righteous parentage, and the son of a father 
who did not persecute us, as did his colleagues, the other 
emperors. Since, therefore, the regions of Gaul have not fallen 
into the sin of surrendering the Scriptures, and since there are 
disputes between us and other prelates of Africa, we supplicate 
thy piety, that our case may be submitted to judges drawn 
from Gaul " (Cooper's Free Church, pp. 365, 366). 

This is the first important instance in which Christians 
asked the aid of the State in settlement of their religious 
afiairs. It was an unfortunate precedent. 

At one time Constantine's own views on the matter were 
clear enough. In a letter to the Council of Aries he says : — 

" They demand my judgment who myself expect the judg- 
ment of Christ. . . . O what audacity of madness ! After the 
manner of the heathen they appeal to me " {Diet. Christ. Biog., 
i., p. 640). 

Nevertheless Constantine was induced to accept the posi- 
tion of arbiter, and after a time came to believe that the duty 


of settling disputes in the Church belonged to him. It was 
the easier for him to glide into this position because, as he 
himself put it, the heathen already appealed to him. As 
Pontifex Maximus he was supreme judge in their religious 

In response to the request of the Donatists a synod was 313. 
held at Rome in the palace of the Lateran. The decision was 
against the Donatists. Next year there was a fiu:1)her hearing 
at Aries, the parties and judges being brought there at public 314. 
expense. There were 200 bishops present, and the decision of 
the previous council was confirmed. The Donatists then en- 
treated the emperor to take the matter into his own hands. 
He did so, and the case was argued before him at Milan with 316. 
the same result. 

Irritated at the obstinacy of the Donatists in declining 
even yet to accept their defeat, Constantine now enforced the 
decision of the councils by the aid of the secular arm. The 
Donatists were proscribed, deprived of their churches, their 
property was confiscated, their bishops were exiled. When 
they still remained refractory Constantine sent an army, and 
for the first time in the world's history Christians slaughtered 
Christians. Fire and sword swept over the country. Such 
were the first-fruits of the alliance between Church and State. 

At length Constantine perceived that schism could not thus 317. 
be ponquered, and ordered his soldiers to stay their hand. At 
the same time he advised Csecilian to treat his opponents 
kindly, and leave vengeance to God. It must, however, in 
fairness be said that a contemporary historian declares that 
the harsh treatment of the Donatists was against the wishes 
of the Catholic bishops. At all events Constantine interfered 
no more with the Donatists, and they so increased that in 
A.D. 330 their synod was attended by 270 bishops. 

We have seen in the last chapter how Constantine and 
Licinius went to war in 314, and how Lieinius was defeated. 
After his defeat he seems to have again become the champion 
of paganism. The struggle between the emperors was renewed 


323. some years later, and resulted in the defeat and death of 
Licinius. Constantine was at last master in an undivided 

Constantine now became openly the patron of the Christian 
Church. He did not suppress heathen worship by force, though 
he prohibited rites involving immorality or sorcery. Moreover, 
in Byzantium, to which he removed the seat of his government, 
he only allowed Christian worship. But offices and other 
rewards were given to Christians, and it was soon seen on 
which side favour la}^ The inevitable result followed. There 
were large additions to the Christian Church from the ranks 
of the heathen. Some were doubtless sincere, but many, we 
fear, were led by interest. Soon imperial favour was a greater 
danger to the Church than imperial hostility had been. 

323. At the time when Constantine became sole emperor the 

Arian controversy was distracting the Christian Church, It 
had originated in a dispute between Alexander, the Bishop of 
Alexandria, and Arius, a presbyter. The dispute was con- 
cerning the true relationship of the Father and the Son. The 
contention of Arius logically involved the question of the 
divinity of Christ, though he would not allow that his views 
were unsound. 

Constantine did not realise the gravity of the dispute, and 
wrote a letter to Alexander and Arius jointly, saying that they 
were disputing about an insignificant matter, and entreating 
them to suffer him to spend his days in peace. 

But this well-meant letter did not settle the dispute, and 
Constantine determined to call a council. Accordingly he sum- 

325. moned the famous council of Nicsea. To this council bishops 
came from all parts of the empire, each bishop being allowed a 
retinue of two presbyters and three slaves. Careful posting 
arrangements were made and all invited to the conference 
travelled and were entertained at the public expense. The 
most distinguished champion on the orthodox side was Atha- 
nasius, a young deacon of Alexandria. 

Constantine presided over the council himself, and his 


dignified and courteous bearing inspired high respect. The 
theologians attacked one another with acrimony and the coun- 
cil lasted for two months. An effort was made to attain the 
impossible by fixing upon a declaration of faith to which the 
whole Church would agree. After a keen dispute between the 
Arians and the orthodox, the latter triumphed and the Nicene 
creed was the result. 

The Nicene creed as read in our churches is not the same 
as the original creed. In later years the creed was modified, 
the doctrine of the Holy Spirit was more clearly set forth, and 
certain condemnatory clauses were omitted. The creed as it 
now stands is a distinct improvement on the original. 

At first a goodly number refused to subscribe to the 
creed, but when they found that the penalty for non- 
compliance would be loss of place and of imperial favour 
most of them yielded. A few, among whom was Arius, 
held out. 

The time for celebrating Easter was also settled by this 
council and those who refused to conform were declared ex- 

At the end of the council Constantine gave a banquet to 
the bishops and presented gifts. Then exhorting them to be of 
one mind, to live at peace, and to pray for himself, his children 
and the empire, he bade them farewell. 

During the Niceean Council Constantine displayed great 
moderation, but afterwards he was severe. Arius was banished 
and his writings were burned. Some of his supporters were 
also banished. 

Persecution did not end with the Arians. Constantine was 
persuaded to pass a penal law against various kinds of dis- 
senters, forbidding them to meet in churches or private houses, 
and ordering that their houses of prayer, " if they deserved to 
be called so," should be pulled down and confiscated to the 
Catholic Church. Thus, no sooner was the Church free from 
the persecution of idolaters than Christians began to persecute 
one another, the direct result of the patronage of the Church 


by the emperor, and the invoking by the Christians themselves 
of the aid of the secular power. 

The irony of the situation appeared when a little time 
afterwards Constantine modified his views and favoured the 
Arians. He restored their bishops, recalled Arius and ordered 
that he should be received back into the Church. But this was 
not so easily arranged. Athanasius, now head of the orthodox 
party in Alexandria, refused to take him back even when 
threatened with deposition and banishment. Constantine re- 
spected his firmness and forbore to proceed to extremities. 
He declared that whatever the views of Athanasius might be, 
he was a man of God. 

The enemies of Athanasius persisted in attacking him and 
Constantine was at last obliged to agree to his trial. It was 
the thirtieth year of Constantine's reign, and he had invited 
many bishops to the dedication of a church which he had 
erected over the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem. The emperor 
ordered them first to meet at Tyre to consider the case of 
Athanasius, but that prelate begged for a change of venue to 
Constantinople. The request was granted and he was ulti- 
mately exiled to the important and comfortable city of Treves. 

Arius now returned to Alexandria, but the Christians there 
would not receive him. He therefore returned to Constanti- 
nople, and Constantine ordered that he should be installed in 
the church there. But the bishop refused to open the church 
doors and the friends of Arius were talking of making a 
forcible entry when Arius suddenly died. He was over eighty 
336. years of age and probably the prolonged excitement proved too 
much for his strength. 

The building of Constantinople was the great event of this 
reign. Born in Servia, bred in Asia, and crowned in Britain, 
Rome was to Constantine a foreign city. The enemies of the 
empire lay in the East and North-east, and Rome was an incon- 
venient residence for an emperor who desired to watch the 
Danubian and Asiatic frontiers. Diocletian had lived at Nico- 
media, a city on the Asiatic side of the Sea of Marmora, and 


Constantine had his usual residence there. But struck with 
the superior suitability of Byzantium he determined to build a 
new capital on its site. 

Byzantium had been founded by the Greeks nine centuries 
before and had already passed through many vicissitudes. The 
new capital covered a much larger space. Constantine took a 
personal interest in the work, superintending the laying out of 
the walls and the building of the city. He spent vast sums in 
public buildings and decoration, and despoiled other cities of 
their treasures for its sake. When the city was ready for 
habitation he removed to it the seat of government, and invited 
persons of wealth and influence to take up their abode there. 
The city was called New Rome at the first, but the name Con- 
stantinopolis was more appropriate and has endured. 

It is as a rule a dangerous experiment to start a new city, 
but in this case the experiment was absolutely successful. The 
position was ideal, and notwithstanding very rough treatment 
and temporary destruction at times the city still endures. 

The building of Constantinople, which was perhaps the 
logical outcome of the scheme of Diocletian, helped to still 
further depose Rome from her imperial position, and paved 
the way for the final separation of East and West. This separa- 
tion was not part of Constantine's plan, but it was coming, and 
the provision of a suitable capital on the Bosphorus helped it 

In the year 326 Constantine went to Rome to celebrate the 
twentieth anniversary of his reign, and the festival was blighted 
by a sore tragedy. His eldest son Crispus was apprehended 
during the festival, exiled to Istria and executed. Some of his 
comrades were executed at the same time. It is possible that 
Constantine acted too hurriedly, and it is even said that he 
afterwards erected a monument to Crispus with the words : 
" To my son whom I unjustly condemned ". But the whole 
matter is obscure. 

During the latter part of Constantine's reign there were 
wars between the Sarmatians dwelling in Upper Hungary and 


the Goths. Constantine went to the aid of the Sarmatians 
332. and defeated the Goths. But when the war was renewed the 
Sarmatians, unable to withstand the pressure, entreated Con- 
stantine to permit them to settle in the empire. Accordingly 
334. he gave them lands in lUyricum and Italy and 300,000 of them 
emigrated at this time. 

Three years later Sapor II. began hostilities on the Persian 
frontier. Constantine prepared to march against him, but fell 
ill at Nicomedia. Realising that his illness was mortal he 
desired to be baptised. Calling the bishops together in his 
palace he said that it had been his desire to receive baptism in 
the Jordan, but God had ordained otherwise. His purple robes 
having been removed the ceremony was performed, after which 
he was clothed in white and laid upon his bed. He died in the 
337. sixty-fourth year of his age and the thirty-first of his reign. 
His body was taken to Constantinople where it lay in state for 
a time. It was then buried with great pomp in a tomb pre- 
pared by himself and in the Church of the Apostles which he 
had built. The site is now occupied by a mosque. He is said 
to have been mourned with wonderful lamentation, and he 
deserved to be for he was a good man and a great king. 

The Christian Church, grateful for many favours, canonised 
Constantine, as well as his mother the Empress Helena. At 
Rome he was enrolled among the gods and incense was oftered 
before his statue. 



Const ANTiNE the Great left three sons, Constantinus, aged 337. 
twenty-one ; Constantius, aged twenty ; and Constans, aged 
seventeen. He left instructions that after his death his do- 
minions should be divided between the three sons and two 
nephews. But Constantius, his second son, who was on the 
spot, secured the empire to his brothers and himself by a 
wholesale massacre of his relations. Only two children, Gallus 
and Julian, were spared, probably because too young to be 
considered dangerous. Though Constantius receives most of 
the blame for this massacre, it was probably rather the work 
of the ministers and troops than of the prince himself. The 
empire was now divided between the brothers, Constantine II. 
obtaining Britain, Gaul and Spain ; Constans having Italy, and 
Constantius ruling the East. 

This settlement did not give satisfaction. Constantine II., 
the eldest brother, quarrelled with Constans and attacked him, 
expecting an easy victory. But the young prince was well 
served by his generals, and Constantine was led into an ambus- 
cade at Aquileia and slain. Thus Gaul, Britain and Spain 340. 
passed to Constans, who now ruled two-thirds of the empire, 
the remainder being ruled by Constantius. 

When Constantine the Great died the empire was on the 
eve of a Persian war, and Constantius, falling heir to the East, 
fell heir to this also. Sapor II. took advantage of the death of 
Constantine the Great and invaded Mesopotamia. He made 
rapid progress, winning battles and capturing cities, but in the 
midst of his success he was threatened by a barbarian invasion, 
and was glad to make a truce with Constantius, who, for 



reasons which shall shortly appear, was equally glad of the 

During the years that followed his succession to the do- 
minions of his elder brother, Constans saw much fighting in 
Gaul. As he was young and more fond of pleasure than war, 
active operations were left in the hands of his generals. The 
ablest of these was Magnentius, a German, who had risen from 
the ranks, and was in command of the picked regiments. 
Magnentius conspired against Constans and was proclaimed 
emperor by his men. Constans taken at a disadvantage fled, 
but was overtaken and slain. When the news of the murder 
of their lawful emperor reached the Ulyrian regiments they 
also determined to elect an emperor, and induced Vetranio to 
assume the purple. Vetranio was loyal to the house of Con- 
stantine, but accepted the position rather than see another 
350. Constantius was warring on the Persian frontier when he 

heard of these events, so he arranged the truce with Sapor 
already mentioned, and turned westward to meet the usurpers. 
Vetranio gladly resigned his power into the emperor's hands, 
so that he was left with only Magnentius to face. After being 

353. defeated in two campaigns Magnentius put an end to his life, 
and the Roman Empire was again united under one ruler. 

That his hands might be free for dealing with Magnentius, 
Constantius had given Gallus, one of the boys spared at the 
massacre, the title of Caesar, and had left him in command of 
the East. Gallus is said to have ruled badly, and certainly he 
made many enemies. Constantius ordered him to appear be- 
fore him at Milan to answer for himself, and he set out, but on 
the way was arrested, imprisoned and executed. 

354. Thus of the house of Constantine the Great only Constan- 
tius, a son, and Julian, a nephew, brother of Gallus, now sur- 
vived. Julian was born at Constantinople, 331 A.D., so that 
he was six years of age when his uncle died. He had been 
educated with care, but watched with jealousy. After the 
execution of Gallus, Julian complained because his brother had 


been condemned without a trial, and for a time his own life 
was in danger. For some months he was kept under strict 
surveillance, but he at length managed to pacify the emperor, 
and was allowed to proceed to Athens. After a few months in 
that city he had the title of Caesar conferred on him, and was 
sent to active service in Gaul. The German tribes had crossed 
the Rhine and were ravaging the province, and Julian was 
entrusted with the task of driving them back. He showed 
much ability, defeated them in four campaigns, and carried 
the war across the Rhine into their own country. He also 
governed the province well, and gained goodwill on every side. 

Constantius had been equally successful on the Danubian 
frontier, but from this he was called to Mesopotamia to meet a 
fresh invasion of Sapor, the Persian king. That he might do 
this the more effectively he requested Julian to send him four 
legions from Gaul. Doubtless he wanted the men, partly also 
perhaps he dreaded the progress Julian was making in popular 
favour, and desired to weaken his hands. Julian suspected 
that the latter was the chief reason, and his troops shared his 
opinion and refused to march. They were in Paris at the 360. 
time, and there they proclaimed Julian emperor. Julian ac- 
cepted the position with some reluctance. He did not wish to 
break with Constantius, so he wrote to him explaining the 
circumstances, signing himself by the lower title of Caesar, and 
asking Constantius to confirm the higher title. But Constan- 
tius was furious, and both men prepared for war. Julian 
hastened southward with his forces, marching from the Rhine 
to Illyricum. Constantius marched westward from Syria, but 
near Tarsus, in Cilicia, he fell sick and died. He was but 
forty-five years of age, and had reigTied for twenty-five .years. 361. 
Thus civil war was averted ; Julian had now no opponent, and 
when he reached Constantinople the whole city came out to 
greet him. He was in the thirty-second year of his age when 
he thus obtained undisputed possession of the empire. 

Julian. — Julian has been unfairly treated by historians in 
being branded with a surname which prejudges his character. 


The emperor was a sincere idolater, and wrote philosophical 
works in favour of the ancient faith. There was nothing 
extraordinary in this, for notwithstanding the conversion of 
Constantine the Great and his long patronage of Christianity, 
more than half the population of the empire still held to idol 
worship. Julian had been educated in Christian doctrine, but 
had never been a Christian at heart, and should not be spoken 
of as an "apostate". There had -been, moreover, little in his 
experience calculated to incline him towards Christianity. His 
uncle Constantine the Great was a good man, but he had 
scarcely known him. He was but six when the great emperor 
died. The three " Christian " emperors who succeeded Con- 
stantine began their career by foully murdering his relatives. 
Until Julian was twenty years of age he was practically a 
prisoner, and his life until he became Caesar was never safe. 
Nor was Julian likely to be favourably impressed by such 
fruits of Christianity as he saw around him. The palace in 
the days of Constantine the Great had been respectable, but it 
was now grossly licentious. With the poorer Christians, 
amongst whom such true religion as there was mostly dwelt, 
he would be little in touch. The ecclesiastics with whom 
Julian came into contact spent their lives in intrigue and in 
senseless and acrimonious disputes upon obscure questions in 
theology, leaving the corruption and misery of the empire un- 
alleviated and unreproved. Christianity had been the estab- 
lished religion of the empire for forty years, and this was the 
outcome. Can we wonder if there was a reaction, and if men 
of philosophic mind like Julian began to wonder whether 
Christianity was any improvement upon the ancient faith ? 
As soon as Julian became emperor he avowed himself an 
idol wojrshipper. He did not persecute Christians, but pub- 
lished an edict of universal toleration. He desired to be impar- 
tial, but we can well understand how difficult was the position 
which he occupied. The Christian Church had been favoured 
by Constantine above all other religious bodies, and his un- 
worthy sons had in this respect followed in their father's 


footsteps. Christians had been preferred in making public 
appointments, temples had been destroyed or allowed to fall 
into decay, idol worship had been forbidden in certain parts 
of the empire, and revenues devoted originally to the temples 
had been confiscated for the benefit of Christianity. To reverse 
this policy even in part was a most difficult matter. When one 
religious body has enjoyed pre-eminence over the rest, and has 
monopolised the good things of the State for a long time, any 
attempt to touch its peculiar privileges by placing it on an 
equality with other religious bodies is looked upon as persecu- 
tion. Yet it was inevitable that Julian should put idolaters 
into office, and should order the restoration of ruined temples 
and confiscated revenues. 

Doubtless there was active persecution during the reign of 
Julian, though against the will of the emperor and without his 
knowledge. The idol worshippers, though a majority of the 
people, had been roughly thrust aside ; they had old scores to 
pay back, and priests, governors and officials, especially in the 
country districts, flushed with victory, would find their oppor- 
tunity to oppress. Nor can Julian be entirely freed from 
blame. He issued an order forbidding Christians to teach the 
classics or the writings of the heathen philosophers. His 
reason .was logical enough. Seeing that Christians did not 
believe in the gods, he thought they should not intermeddle 
with heathen philosophy. 

Julian was a most active legislator. Though he reigned for 
but twenty months, fifty-four of his laws appear in the codes 
of Theodosius and Justinian. 

The emperor waged war against the many abuses which had 
grown up in the court of Constantius, particularly against the 
pernicious influence of the eunuchs, strange residents to find in 
a Christian court. He was himself a good man, living an un- 
selfish and virtuous life. Had he been spared he would have 
had an excellent influence in many ways, and his sincerity 
might have led him to embrace Christianity in the end. But 
his reign was so short that neither the attempted restoration of 


idolatry nor his war against corruption had much permanent 

When Julian succeeded to the throne Alexandria was in a 
turmoil. One George of Cappadocia, a defaulting army con- 
tractor, had taken to theology and embraced Arian doctrine. 
He was clever and zealous, and was appointed eventually to the 
see of Alexandria, notwithstanding much popular protest. He 
used his power corruptly, and when Julian came to the throne 
he deposed and imprisoned him. After twenty-four days the 
people, impatient of judicial delay, broke open the prison and 
lynched their enemy. But in slaying the man they created 
the martyr, for his crimes were forgotten and the Arians held 
his memory in reverence. Accordingly, when the crusaders 
entered the East in 1097 they found George canonised and 
honoured as a warrior saint. At the siege of Antioch in 1098 
this saint was thought to have helped them, and he was adopted 
as one of their patrons. About 1350 Edward III. associated 
him with the Order of the Garter, and he became the St. 
George of Merry England. 

Though he had no sympathy with their religious ideas, 
Julian patronised the Jews, and even encouraged a scheme for 
rebuilding Jerusalem and planting there a Jewish colony. The 
scheme was supported by wealthy Hebrews and a great deal 
of money was subscribed. Contemporary writers declare that 
the work was stopped by supernatural manifestations, but 
their statements may be disregarded. The death of Julian 
and the succession of a Christian emperor put an end to the 

The beginning of Julian's reign had been associated with 
the Persian war, and it was fated that the end of his reign 
should have a similar association. In the hope of recovering 
some of the territory which the empire had lost, the emperor 
363. gathered a great army at Antioch and set out, moving down 
the Euphrates Valley. He had brilliant success until he reached 
Ctesiphon. Here he defeated the Persian army, but as the 
city was powerfully fortified and surrounded by water and 


morass he did not besiege it, but marched inland, hoping to 
force the Persians to give him battle in the open plain. 

Julian had been attended by a great fleet which had sailed 
down the Tigris, but this he burned together with his magazine 
and stores, hoping to find suflScient support for the troops in 
the surrounding country. The Persians, however, adopted 
Fabian tactics. They refused to give battle but hovered round, 
cutting off stragglers and attacking parties of soldiers when- 
ever they safely could. Meanwhile they drove away their 
cattle and devastated the country, so that Julian could not 
obtain provision for his troops. The soldiers were soon in 
great straits, and many sickened and died. At last retreat 
became inevitable. Whilst retiring they were attacked by the 
whole force of the Persian army, but notwithstanding the dis- 
tressing circumstances the soldiers fought well and the assaults 
of the enemy were repulsed again and again. 

Julian showed unflinching courage on the retreat, but his 
utmost efforts could do no more than save the troops from 
annihilation. At length in repulsing a serious attack he was 
shot through the liver and fell senseless to the ground. When 
he recovered consciousness he wished to renew the struggle, but 
the surgeons told him that his wound was mortal. He then 
retired and spent the few remaining hours of his life in con- 
versation with his friends. 

Julian was only in the thirty-second year of his age when 
he died, and his reign had lasted less than two years. Yet he 
had shown great qualities, and had he lived longer he might 
have proved worthy to be reckoned among the great Roman 
Emperors. Both as crown prince and emperor he had toiled 
hard for the good of the State, he was upright in his ad- 
ministration, and he lived a life of virtue and of self- 

There is a legend that when on his deathbed Julian uttered 
the words, " Oh, Galilean, thou hast conquered ! " Though the 
narrative is without foundation, yet it would be correct to say 
that Julian's effort on behalf of paganism made no enduring 


impression. He was succeeded by Christian emperors, and 
that which he had done was undone. 

Julian was a man of scholarly attainment and an author 
of merit. Many of his works are still extant. One was 
against the Christians. The work is lost, but extracts are 
given in writings of the Fathers who replied to it. 

Julian left no son, and the race of Constantine died with 



Jovian. — When Julian fell, the army which he had led 363. 
against the Persians was in a position of extreme peril. It 
was essential that a successor should be at once appointed. 
Hurriedly and almost by accident Jovianus, the head of the 
imperial household, was chosen, and to him fell the task of 
rescuing the army from the peril by which it was surrounded. 
The task was rendered the harder from the fact that the 
death of Julian greatly encouraged the Persians. They 
attacked the Roman forces with renewed vigour and though 
they were repulsed it was with difficulty and by desperate 

Clearly there was no alternative for the Romans but to make 
peace if they would save the remnant of their army. Jovian 
accordingly entered into negotiation with Sapor and conditions 
of peace were laid down. They were very hard. Five pro- 
vinces on the Tigris were restored to the Persian monarchy : 
the impregnable city of Nisbis and other fortresses were handed 
over : the suzerainty of Armenia which had cost so many wars 
was abandoned. Hard though the terms were they were agreed 
to, a truce of thirty years was arranged, and hostages were 
given on both sides. The Romans now marched homeward, 
but they were almost without provisions and it was not until 
they had journeyed for a week and suffered terrible hardsliip 
that they reached the city of Ur and found adequate supply. 

Jovian sent messengers all over the empire announcing 

his accession and the peace he had concluded with Persia, and 

the election was accepted on the whole with tranquillity. The 

remains of Julian were interred at Tarsus, which he had se- 
voL. II. (241) 16 


lected as his burial place because his mother's family resided 

On the homeward journey, at a small town on the frontiers 
of Bithynia and Galatia, after a reign of little more than seven 
months, Jovian suddenly died and " the throne of the world was 
again vacant ". 
364. Valentinian I. — The election of Jovian had been hurried, 

the election of Valentinian was deliberate. An assembly of 
chiefs both civil and military was held at Nicsea, and he was 
selected. He was absent at the time, and his formal installa- 
tion took place ten days later. 

Valentinian I. was an Illyrian of humble origin but com- 
manding presence. He was a professing Christian of the 
orthodox sort, and had held important military appointments. 

When in the act of haranguing the army a cry arose that 
Valentinian should at once elect a colleague. He asked time 
to consider, and then elected his brother Valens as joint em- 
peror. Valens was a commonplace man, greatly inferior to his 
brother, but he was unswervingly loyal to him and as a 
subordinate emperor did well enough. 

In dividing the empire Valentinian took the West, Gaul, 
Italy, Illyricum, with Milan as his capital. Valens took the 
East, Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, with Constantinople as his 
capital. For a time, SaUust, a liberal-minded man, acted as 
prefect and chief adviser to Valens, but he was thrust aside in 
favour of Probus, Valens' father-in-law, who governed with 
much severity. 

The empire was now menaced on every side by barbarian 
tribes. In Britain the Picts, the Scots and the Saxons gave 
the quieter people of the Roman province much anxiety ; on the 
Upper Rhine the Alemanni frequently crossed the river and 
ravaged Gaul, the Sarmatians and Quadi roamed over Pannonia 
and the Goths overran Thrace. 

The tribes dwelling on the shores of the Baltic and North 
Sea were giving ever increasing trouble. They were capital 
seamen and splendid fighters, and united the trades of fishing 


and buccaneering with considerable skill. They used simple 
vessels, made partly of skins, and so light that they could be 
carried across country on carts. They had made a settlement 
for themselves in the north of Gaul, and were united in a loose 
military confederation for rapine and defence. 

To contend with the buccaneers the Romans had an official 
known as the Count of the Saxon Shore, and Valentinian en- 
trusted the conquest of the tribes in Northern Britain to 
Theodosius, father of the future emperor of that name. Theo- 
dosius drove the tribes to the north and recovered the territory 
between the walls of Hadrian and Antoninus, which they had 367. 
overrun. The territory thus recovered became the province of 

Some years later Theodosius was employed in Africa, where 
a serious revolt had arisen under a usurper named Firmus. 374. 
Here also Theodosius was successful. Next year Valentinian 
died, and the year after, lamentable to relate, Theodosius was 
beheaded at Carthage by order of Valens. His only crime was 
that his name began with the letters Theod, and a soothsayer 
had declared that Valens would be succeeded by someone whose 
name began thus. 

Valentinian was a strong and upright man, but exceedingly 367. 
cruel at times. He associated his son Gratian with him in the 
empire whilst he was still a boy. He had hard work to defend 
the frontiers of the Rhine and Upper Danube from the incur- 
sions of the Alemanni and the Franks, peoples from whom the 
names of Allemagne and France have sprung. In order better 
to defend the frontiers, Valentinian built many fortresses. 
These were efficacious for a time, but at a later period became 
centres of rebellion and did more harm than good. 

In religious matters Valentinian showed much toleration. 
Julian's anti-Christian legislation was repealed, and it was 
clearly understood that the empire was to be Christian, but 
Valentinian announced that every man might freely practise 
" that form of worship which he had imbibed with his soul ". 
Those who were supposed to practise divination and witchcraft 


were, however, mercilessly persecuted both by Valentinian and 
Valens, and such was the prevailing ignorance that the crusade 
against witchcraft practically resolved itself into a crusade 
against science. During this superstitious spasm many good 
men suffered unjustly, and many books of mathematical and 
scientific value were destroyed. Opportunities are afforded at 
times like these for the gratification of private malevolence, 
there were many prosecutions upon false information, and cruel 
deeds were done. 

Notwithstanding many faults Valentinian's reign was dis- 
tinguished by wise and tolerant legislation, amongst other laws 
passed were statutes prohibiting the exposure of infants, ap- 
pointing public physicians, and restraining ecclesiastics from 
acquiring property by undue influence. 

The wise concessions of territory made by certain far-seeing 
emperors had given peace on the Danube frontier for nearly a 
century. The Goths had formed a confederacy and had power- 
ful leaders, of whom Hermanric, the Ostrogoth, is not yet for- 
gotten. They helped the Romans against their enemies, many 
Gothic auxilliaries serving in the Persian campaigns. Unfortu- 
nately quarrels arose. The Quadi, a tribe of Sclavonic origin, 
were greatly aggrieved because Valentinian, in pursuance of 
his usual frontier policy, built a fortress on their side of the 
Danube, and some violent spirits amongst them crossed the 
river and ravaged Pannonia. Valentinian, full of wrath, at- 
tacked them with a powerful army, and the Quadi sent an 
embassy to explain how the trouble had arisen and to beg for 
peace. The ambassadors found Valentinian at Bregetio on the 
Danube. He received them in great pomp, but in the midst of 
375. an impassioned speech was struck with apoplexy and died. 
He was fifty-four years of age, and had reigned for twelve 
years. His remains were carried to Constantinople and buried 
in the Church of the Apostles. 

"When Valentinian I. died his son Gratian, a boy of sixteen, 
who had been associated with him in the empire, was at Trier. 
Valens was at Antioch, and there was a fear that an emperor 


might be chosen who was not a member of the reigning liouse. 
It happened, however, that Justina, the second wife of Valen- 
tinian, was in the camp. She had an infant son, and her friends 
hurriedly proclaimed him as monarch. When Gratian heard 
what had been done he approved and accepted his infant half- 
brother as partner. He reserved Britain, Gaul and Spain as 
his special dominion, and gave Italy, Africa and lUyricum to 
Justina to rule for Valentinian II. Valens kept the East. 

The reign of Valens in the East had not been so successful 
as that of Valentinian in the West. Early in his reign he had 
been confronted with an insurrection led by Procopius, a 
Cilician, and relative of Julian, the former emperor. Pro- 
copius incurred the suspicions of both Jovian and Valens, and 
lay in concealment for two years. Tiring of an outcast life and 
taking advantage of some dissatisfaction amongst the soldiers, 
Procopius got a following and was proclaimed emperor in Con- 

The tidings of this revolt reached Valens and Valentinian 365. 
speedily. Valentinian was too much occupied in Gaul to per- 
mit of his giving active assistance, and the burden of the con- 
test fell upon Valens. At first he was greatly alarmed, and even 
spoke of resigning the purple, but braver counsels prevailed, 
and he marched to meet his rival. 

The struggle between Valens and Procopius extended over 
portions of the years 365-6. For a time Procopius was success- 
ful, but the older men and the more staid amongst the soldiers 
and people held with Valens, and at last many of Procopius' 
followers deserted his banner. He was then somewhat easily 
defeated, captured and executed. 366. 

The insurrection of Procopius brought the empire into 
collision with the Gothic tribes living north of the Danube. 
Ten thousand Gothic auxiliaries had crossed with the intention 
of helping Procopius. They arrived too late to be of service, 
and they were captured by Valens and detained in captivity. 
Their prince remonstrated, declaring that they had acted under 
the impression that Procopius was the nearest representative of 


the family of Constantine and the lawful emperor ; if they had 
committed an error of judgment, he begged that they might be 

Valens, however, determined to be avenged upon the Goths, 

367. and the Roman legions crossed the Danube. The war extended 
over three years, at the end of which time peace was granted to 
the Goths. They were forbidden to cross the Danube, and two 
places only were assigned to them as market towns in which 
they might carry on their trade with the empire. The treaty 

369. was ratified by Valens and Athanaric, who met on a merchant 
ship which had been moored in the middle of the Danube. 
Circumstances were, however, soon to arise which would make 
the fulfilment of the treaty impossible. 

Whilst these events were transpiring in Europe, events 
were also transpiring in Asia which were destined to bring 
about many changes in the Roman Empire. In this great con- 
tinent there had been upheavals from time immemorial, and 
these were again becoming serious. The Huns, a vast Tartar 
horde, impelled by some unknown force, appeared on the fron- 
tiers of the territory inliabited by the Gothic tribes, and pressed 
forward into their domains. The Tartar faces of the invaders, 
their ferocity, their squalor, filled the Gotlis with alarm. The 

372. Alani of the Don were easily subdued, and then with a sudden 
rush the fertile districts under the sway of Hermanric, king of 
the Ostrogoths, were overrun. Hermanric escaped from the 

375. ruin of his empire by suicide, and the Huns, having destroyed 
the Ostrogothic Empire, pressed on against Athanaric and the 

376. Athanaric was defeated and driven from the Dneister back 
to the Pruth. The Huns then seem to have paused, but the 
Goths, stupefied and panic-stricken by their onslaught, came to 
the conclusion that there could be no safety for their people 
until they had put the broad Danube between them and their 

The prince of the Visigoths whose territories lay nearest 
the Danube was Fritigern, a Christian, and he undertook to 


negotiate with Valens and obtain permission for his people 
to cross and dwell on the southern side of the river. The 
negotiations were carried on by Ulfilas, a famous missionary 
bishop, and permission was at last granted. Had Valens been 
a far-seeing man he might, by exercising a wise and kindly 
poHcy, have turned the Visigoths at this crisis into an iron ram- 
part wliich would have preserved the empire from much future 
trouble. Unfortunately no wisdom was shown and the results 
to the empire were most disastrous. 

The Goths were permitted to enter the empire but on con- 
dition that they handed over their weapons, and gave up their 
children as hostages to be distributed throughout the empire. 
These conditions destroyed the grace of the concession and 
should never have been laid down. The Goths crossed in vast 
numbers, the children of the wealthier classes were torn from 
them, and in too many cases were prostituted to Roman lust. 
No arrangement was made for feeding the multitude. All was 
left to chance, and the Goths must either starve or buy pro- 
visions at a rate wliich soon reduced them to beggary. Slaves, 
money, household goods were parted with, and many sold their 
children into slavery rather than see them perish. 

For some months the Visigoths endured all tilings rather 
than break their promise. But news of the treatment they 
were receiving reached the Ostrogoths, and they drew near to 
the Danube. Valens had refused permission to them to cross ; 
it was well for them, and ill for him. They were under no 
obligation ; they had made no promise. At last they made a 
dash across the Danube and invaded Moesia. Fritigern would 
fain have joined them but for his promise. At length his 
scruples were removed by the Roman general liimself. Fore- 
seeing trouble, he invited Fritigern to a banquet and attempted 
his assassination. Breaking out from the banqueting hall, 
sword in hand, Fritigern put himself at the head of his people. 
In their first encounter with the legions they slew so many that 
there was no lack of arms. " That day," says Jordanes, " ended 
the hunger of the Goths and the security of the Romans." 


After this success Fritigern marched upon Hadrianople. 
He could not capture it at once and wisely raised the siege and 
marched westward and southward over the rich province of 
ThracC; a province which at this time oflficially reached north- 
wards to the Danube. Everywhere the Goths were joined by 
their countrymen, some of whom were in the Roman military 
service, others had been detained as slaves. 

During this turmoil Valens was at Antioch wasting his 
strength upon foolish wars with Persia. He now came to 
terms with that country, and gathering every available force 
marched into Thrace. For a time the Roman generals were 
successful, and the invaders were driven across the Balkans. 
378. Valens now joined the army at Hadrianople and prepared 

for the supreme effort. He had corresponded with Gratian, 
his nephew, and knew that he was approaching with large 
reinforcements. But Valens was jealous of Gratian, who was 
popular and successful, and was eager to obtain a victory be- 
fore he came. Hearing, therefore, that the enemy was near, 
and absurdly underestimating his strength, Valens determined 
to give battle. Both sides hesitated to begin,- and some time 
was spent in negotiation. Valens seems to have doubted at the 
last moment whether he had not better postpone the engage- 
ment, and Fritigern's cavalry was absent. But the cavalry 
suddenly arrived, and swept upon the Roman army like a hur- 
ricane. The Roman generals were either taken by surprise or 
showed great incapacity. Their cavalry got separated from 
their infantry, and the infantry were so crowded that they 
could not use their weapons. It was Cannse over again. The 
slaughter was terrible, the slain lay in heaps. At length such 
of the Romans as survived fled in confusion, and night fell. 
Valens was never found. It is said that he took refuge in an 
outhouse which was burned to the ground, the emperor perish- 
ng in the flames. But there is no certainty. 

Two-thirds of the Roman army fell at Hadrianople, in- 
cluding very many ofiicers of high rank. Had the Goths 
known how to take advantage of their victory and been 


civilised enough to undertake the government of that which 
they had conquered, the eastern half of the Roman Empire 
would have been at their feet. But the weakness of the 
Gothic organisation pohtically made this impossible, and Rome 
had time to recover. 



378. After the terrible battle in which Valens fell the Goths 
marched upon Hadrianople, hoping to capture it with ease. 
But many fugitives had already reached the city, and with 
their help the garrison made a resolute defence. At length the 
Goths drew oft' their forces and the city was saved. They then 
marched upon Constantinople, but only to meet with further 
failure. They had not learned enough of the art of war to 
enable them to capture fortified cities, and they had to content 
themselves with the spoil of the provinces. Retiring therefore 
from Constantinople they ravaged the country even to the 
north-eastern confines of Italy. The Romans, defeated in the 
field, took a cruel vengeance by murdering the youthful hostages 
who were scattered over the empire. 

The death of Valens left Gratian, his nephew, at the age of 
twenty master of the empire, having none but the infant 
Valentinian II. and Justina, his stepmother^ to share his power. 
Wisely recognising that he could not cope singlehanded with so 
many enemies, and anxious to choose a colleague of ripe experi- 
ence, he sent for Theodosius, the son of the eminent general 
379. whose brilliant career and sad ending we have already described. 
Theodosius came at his call, and he proclaimed him Augustus at 
Sirmium on the Save. He gave to him the Eastern Empire just 
as Valens had it, but added Thrace and Eastern lUyricum. The 
whole duty of quelling the Gothic tribes, therefore, fell upon 
the new emperor, who was now thirty-four years of age. 

Matters were in a critical state. The Goths were marching 

in triumph wherever they listed, the Romans were cowed. 

Theodosius acted with much wisdom and ran no risks. He 



fixed his headquarters at Thessalonica, a central position from 
which he could more readily observe the seat of war. He re- 
frained from giving the enemy battle in the field, but garrisoned 
the cities and strengthened their fortifications. When favour- 
able opportunities occurred the garrisons sallied forth and 
attacked small parties of Goths. When they had thus re- 
covered confidence they made more daring expeditions. By 
this cautious policy Theodosius was successful, Fritigern, the 
great Gothic leader, died ; Athanaric, now an old man, made 
his peace ; the younger Goths broke up into bands and were 
easily dealt with. Soon they were driven beyond the Balkans. 

Theodosius fell sick and had to summon Gratian to his aid. 380. 
The death of Fritigern made negotiation more easy, and Gratian 
found an opportunity of entering into a covenant with the 
Goths and making peace. Theodosius was laid aside for some 
months, but when he got better he gladly consented to the 
peace. The Goths were to be aUies of the empire, bound on 
imperial summons to muster under their own chiefs and fight 
for the empire. Thousands of the younger Goths joined the 
regular forces ; the rest were provided with lands. Thus, four 
years after the death of Valens, peace again reigned. 

Two men who had been very powerful among the Goths 
passed away about this time. Ulfilas, the great missionary 
bishop whose life we shall deal with in the next chapter, and 
Athanaric, so long their king. Athanaric spent the last months 
of his life in Constantinople. Theodosius treated him with much 
courtesy, and when he died gave him a magnificent funeral, 
himself riding before the bier of the old chieftain. By actions 
such as these Theodosius showed his wisdom and did much to 
conciliate his Gothic subjects. Peace was finally concluded on 
the 3rd of October, 382, and in the same year Alaric, of whom 382, 
we shall hear more hereafter, succeeded to the chieftainship of 
the Goths. 

During these events a revolution had taken place in the 
Western Empire. Gratian had become unpopular. There 
were various causes for his unpopularity, of which, perhaps, 


the favour shown by him to the barbarian soldiers may have 
been the most important. He had a body-guard of Alani, and 
preferred barbarians not infrequently in appointing to important 
commands. There was, at all events, discontent in the army, 
and unscrupulous men took advantage of it. 

Maximus, who was in command of the troops in Britain, was 
proclaimed emperor and crossed into Gaul at the head of three 
regiments. Whether he was the instrument or the author of 
the mutiny we cannot say. Gratian had a considerable army 
and advanced to meet his rival, but his soldiers deserted whole- 
sale. At length it was clear to the young emperor that his 
only safety lay in flight. Accordingly he fled, but was inter- 
cepted at Lyons and assassinated. He was but twenty-five 
years of age. 
383. Magnus Maximus now ruled the western countries of 

Europe. He sent an embassy to Theodosius offering friend- 
ship, and Theodosius, whatever his private views may have 
been, accepted the alliance. He had only just brought the 
struggle with the Goths to an end, and was in no mood to begin 
a new war at that time. Theodosius stipulated, however, that 
the ambition of Maximus should be satisfied with what he had 
attained, and that the youthful emperor Valentinian II. should 
be undisturbed in Italy and Africa. 

For a time Maximus respected the undertaking, but gradu- 
ally began to threaten Valentinian, who sent Bishop Ambrose 
as an ambassador on more than one occasion to plead for peace. 
Ambrose was too overbearing a man to win much diplomatic 
success, but the substitution of a new ambassador, Domninus, a 
Syrian, was yet less fortunate. Domninus was well received, 
and Maximus proposed that, as a token of friendship, he should 
send troops to help Valentinian against the barbarians in Pan- 
nonia. Domninus agreed, the forces crossed the Alps as his 
guard, and when he reached Italy he found that he had been 
outwitted. Other forces crossed while the advance guard held 
387. the passes, Valentinian fled and Maximus obtained possession 
of Italy without a blow, 


Theodosius protected Valentinian and promised him his 
support. He married Galla his sister as a second wife, and 
made his preparations for the campaign with great care. At 
length he was ready, and, having divided his army into three 
bands, he crossed the Julian Alps and descended on Italy. 
Though Maximus had had plenty of time to prepare, he made 
no opposition worthy of the name. His armies were driven 
back ; Aquileia, where he had taken refuge, was easily taken . 
and he was captured and executed forthwith. 

The western province was now confirmed to Valentinian, 388. 
Gratian's dominions being added to Italy and Africa. But 
Theodosius was recognised as supreme over the whole empire. 
He had now two sons, Arcadius and Honorius, and the former 
was associated with him in the government. 

The wars in wliich Theodosius had been engaged were 
costly and taxation was oppressive. Theodosius was not a 
good financier, and taxes were not collected in an equitable 
way. There were riots in many places, and a specially serious 
one at Antioch. The people acted foolislily, dishonouring and 387. 
even destroying statues of the emperor, and the civic authori- 
ties did not check them with sufficient zeal. Antioch had been 
a trial to many emperors, and Theodosius determined to teach 
the citizens a lesson. Accordingly he issued an edict closing 
the theatre and liippodrome and pubhc baths, discontinuing the 
doles of corn, and degrading the city from the rank of capital 
to that of a village dependent upon Laodicea. Commissioners 
were sent to inquire judicially into the whole matter and to 
punish the guilty parties. During the trials the citizens of 
Antioch were in a state of the utmost terror. Flavian, the 
aged bishop, undertook a journey of 800 miles across Asia 
Minor in order to intercede for the people. Fortunately the 
commissioners carried out their duties with forbearance, and 
Theodosius forgave the city and restored its privileges. 

After the defeat of Maximus, Theodosius resided at Milan, sss. 
Here he came in contact with Bishop Ambrose. We shall have 
more to say about Ambrose in a later chapter. He was a well- 


meaning man, who supported what he beheved to be the rights 
of his Church on every occasion with blind zeal. He had used 
his power over Valentinian II. and Justina in most unsparing 
fashion and he endeavoured to treat Theodosius in the same 

There were serious disturbances in the East at CaUinicum, a 
city on the Euphrates, in the course of which the Christians 
burned a Jewish synagogue, and some orthodox monks burned 
the temple of a " heretic " sect. Theodosius ordered that the 
monks should be punished and that the bishop should rebuild 
the synagogue. The award was just, for the bishop could 
have stopped the mischief but encouraged it instead. 

The dispute was not one with wMch Bishop Ambrose had 
any right to interfere, but he took up the cudgels on behalf of 
the other bishop, and addressed Theodosius in most arrogant 
and offensive language. He spoke of a synagogue " as the 
haunt of infidels, the home of the impious, the hiding-place of 
madmen, under the damnation of God Himself ". He declared 
that the bishop of CaUinicum would be a traitor to his office if 
he obeyed the imperial decree and rebuilt the synagogue, and 
he hoped that he would prefer martyrdom to betrayal. Other 
language he used even more impertinent. When Theodosius 
received the letter in dignified silence he preached at him from 
the pulpit, comparing the absolutely just action of Theodosius 
to that of David in liis adultery with Bathsheba and murder of 

When a bishop, and more particularly a CathoHc bishop, 
speaks thus, his action is not brave but the reverse. He 
knows well that his position makes retahation impossible. 
Pressed thus unfairly by the bishop, Theodosius yielded and 
injustice triumphed. 
389. In the eleventh year of liis reign Theodosius visited Rome 

for the first time. The visit of an emperor to the imperial city 
was now a rare event. The city had ceased to be of poHtical 
importance, and its social condition was full of corruption. 
Rich and poor hved for pleasure alone. GambHng, drinking, 


racing, gaming made up the day. A small percentage were 
Christiana, honourable men and women. 

Next year, whilst Theodosius was at Milan, a terrible inci- 390. 
dent occurred at Thessalonica. Brotheric, the commandant of 
the city, had imprisoned a popular charioteer for abominable 
crime, and the people, enraged because their favourite could not 
race, rioted and murdered Brotheric and his staff. After 
the murder they dragged their bodies through the city in 
triumph. The riot was absolutely without excuse, and the 
perpetrators of the crime deserved the most condign punish- 
ment. Theodosius and his officers were justly enraged. But 
if the crime was bad the method by which it was punished was 
worse. Thinking perhaps that a judicial inquiry would be 
difficult and not sufficiently striking in its consequences, Theo- 
dosius sent an army to occupy the city. The citizens were 
invited to public games, and when the circus was full the 
soldiers were let loose upon them. About 7,000 men, women 
and children were massacred. 

We must not forget that Theodosius was in Milan, and that 
matters may have been carried further than he intended. But 
he must be held responsible, and he fell under the severe re- 
proof of Bishop Ambrose, who forbade him to enter the church 
until he had undergone penance. After some time Theodosius 390. 
yielded and was absolved. 

Next year Theodosius returned to Constantinople, leaving 391. 
Valentinian II. to rule alone. But Valentinian's further reign 
was brief. He was amiable and unselfish, but weak, lacking 
the strength necessary for the high position in which he was 
placed The real ruler of the Western Empire was Arbogast, a 
brave Frankish captain, who for many years had done excel- 
lent service. Arbogast was hard, rough and fond of power, but 
had many good qualities and was adored by the soldiers. 

Realising that Arbogast was master rather than servant, 392. 
Valentinian endeavoured to dismiss him, but Arbogast treated 
his efforts with contempt, secure in the loyalty of the army. 
Worried, and believing his life to be in danger, Valentinian be- 


came seriously ill, and died somewhat suddenly and mysteri- 
ously. It has been assumed that Arbogast connived at his 
murder, but it is just as likely that the young emperor com- 
mitted suicide or even died a natural death. The fact that 
Arbogast permitted the body to be carried to Milan for burial 
tells somewhat against the theory of murder, and the fact 
that Valentinian had actually threatened to take his own hfe 
tells in favour of the theory of suicide. But he was in a 
depressed condition and may well enough have died a natural 

Arbogast did not himself seize the throne, but set up 
Eugenius, a professor of rhetoric and an official in the civil ser- 
vice. Eugenius was a man of unblemished character and un- 
doubted ability, and there is no need to speak disparagingly 
either of him or of Arbogast. It is clear, moreover, that 
Eugenius did not covet the position of emperor, for his eleva- 
tion did not take place until three months after the death of 

An embassy came from Eugenius to Constantinople and 
pleaded eloquently for peace, the Gaulish bishops who accom- 
panied it declaring that Arbogast was not responsible for 
Valentinian's death. Theodosius does not seem to have been 
eager for war. Arbogast he knew to be a brave and well-tried 
soldier, the best general in the empire. The Frank, indeed, 
had been appointed commander of the Gallic armies by Theo- 
dosius himself. But Theodosius was married to Galla, the 
sister of Valentinian, and her influence probably left the 
emperor no choice but to avenge her- brother's death. 

More than two years elapsed after Valentinian's death be- 
fore Theodosius invaded Italy, and just before the army set 
3^4. out Galla died. Theodosius marched through lUyricum to- 
wards Aquileia, crossing the shoulder of the Julian Alps. He 
gained the summit of the pass with little opposition, and de- 
scending engaged the forces of Eugenius. The first day's 
battle was doubtful, but on the second day the forces of Theo- 
dosius were successful, and Eugenius was captured and slain. 


Arbogast fled, and then, finding capture inevitable, fell on his 
sword and slew himself. 

After the defeat Tlieodosius showed much clemency and soon 
won the loyal adhesion of all who had been against him. But 
he was a worn-out man, and he died within a year of the battle 
not yet fifty years of age. When he perceived that the end 395. 
was approaching he made a disposition of his dominions. To 
Honorius, a boy of eleven, he bequeathed the Western Empire ; 
to Arcadius, who was eighteen, and whom he had left as regent 
at Constantinople, he gave the Eastern Empire. He appointed 
^tihcho, an extremely able and trustworthy officer, chief ad- 
ministrator under Honorius, and _Ru.finus chief administrator 
under Arcadius. He commended both his sons to the kindly 
care of Bishop Ambrose, who was with him when he died. 
But the bishop did not long survive him. 

The remains of Theodosius were removed to Constantinople 
and buried in the Church of the Apostles. Theodosius is com- 
monly called " The Great ". This title is a misnomer. He was 
an able man, an eminent man, so far as his light went a good 
man ; but he was by no means a great man. 

VOL. II, 17 



Having now brought the poHtical history of the Roman Em- 
pire to the end of the fourth century it is well that we should 
glance for a little at the progress of Christianity among the 
people. In an earlier chapter we saw how Christianity, slowly 
living down calumny and persecution, gained a position in the 
empire, and became a force to be reckoned with. The patron- 
age of Constantine opened a new era to the Church, happier in 
some ways, less happy in others. The Church rapidly lost its 
pristine purity. In earUer days few joined it who were not 
sincere, but now that it was under royal patronage communi- 
ties professed Christianity in a mass. The spiritual nature of 
the Church of Christ was lost sight of, and assent to a creed 
took its place. Moreover, no sooner was the Church itself free 
from persecution than it became a persecutor. 

When Constantine died there were two great parties in 
the Church, the Catholic or orthodox party, and the Arian. 
At first Constantine favoured the orthodox party, afterwards 
he became inclined towards the Arian, and it was in the ascen- 
dant at his death. But Constantine wasii fair-minded Christian 
gentleman who allowed men to think for themselves. So long, 
therefore, as he reigned there was comparative peace. When 
he died he was succeeded by three sons, of whom Constantius 
succeeded to the throne of the Eastern Empire, and eventually 
became sole emperor. Constantius was not a Christian at all 
in the true sense of the word, but he was an intense partisan, 
and he threw himself into theological discussion with abundant 
energy. " Council was held against council ; creed was set 



against creed ; anathema was hurled against anathema." Theo- 
logical controversy became the fashion of the day, and amongst 
all classes of the people. Nor was controversy confined to 
words. Frequently it ended in blows and bloodshed. 

The accession of Julian and the triumph of idolatry during 361. 
his reign was a blessing to the Church, for it united Christians 
and put at least a momentary end to their quarrels. 

Julian was succeeded by Jovian, a professing Christian, but 363. 
a broad-minded man who allowed freedom of opinion to all, 
leaving Christians and idolaters alike unmolested. 

To Jovian succeeded Valentinian I. in the West and Valens 
in the East. Valentinian I. was orthodox but quite tolerant, 
both to Arians and idolaters. Valens, on the contrary, was an 
Arian and a persecutor. Good men were driven from the 
priesthood, some suffered martyrdom. On the death of Valens 
the Cathohcs recovered their power, and the Arians, after that 
time, never regained their former influence. 

Gratian who succeeded his father Valentinian I. in the 375. 
Western Empire was less tolerant of paganism than he had 
been. By this name, which signified peasant religion, the wor- 
ship of idols was now known. Gratian dechned the position of 
Pontifex Maximus, and took from the priests and temples 
many of their privileges. His successor, Valentinian II., in- 
fluenced by Ambrose, acted on similar lines. 

Up to the reign of Theodosius idol worship, though dis- 
couraged, had been tolerated, but this powerful monarch en- 
deavoured to suppress it altogether. Harsh and inquisitorial 
laws were passed. Sacriticing to idols, once the test of patriot- 
ism, was now considered equivalent to treason, and entailed loss 
of house and property. Theodosius doubtless meant well, but 
he did not realise that it was as sinful to persecute idolaters as 
to persecute Christians. 

The people quickly took the cue from their rulers, and 
mobs of so-called Christians, led by fanatical priests, attacked 
the idol temples. At Alexandria there were terrible riots. 391. 
Bishop Theophilus led a crusade against the shrines for which 


the city was famous, and notwithstanding the desperate resist- 
ance of the pagan party, the temples were destroyed and the 
images were overthrown. The overthrow of paganism was not 
undertaken in a Christian spirit, but was sought to be effected 
by murder and massacre. 

Theodosius had been baptised into the orthodox faith, and 
did his utmost to obtain conformity. At a general council held 
381. at Constantinople the Nicene Creed was finally established, with 
a clause stating in express terms the divinity of the Holy 
Spirit. The alteration brought the creed into the form which 
we now find in the liturgy of the Church of England, except 
that the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Son was not 
mentioned at that time. The first appearance of the words 
"Filioque" (and the Son) in the Creed was at the Council of 
Toledo, in Spain, a.d. 589. 

After the council at Constantinople Theodosius issued a 
decree commanding uniformity of doctrine throughout the 
empire : — 

" We order those who follow this law to assume the name 
of Catholic Christians ; we pronounce all others to be mad and 
f ooHsh, and we order that they shall bear the ignominious name 
of heretics, and shall not presume to bestow on their conven- 
ticles the title of churches : these are to be visited, first by the 
Divine vengeance, and secondarily by the stroke of our own 
authority, which we have received in accordance with the will 
of heaven ". 

Next year a yet more stringent edict was issued : — 

" Let there be no place left to the heretics for celebrating the 
mysteries of their faith, no opportunity for exhibiting their 
stupid obstinacy. . . , These doctrines are abundantly proved to 
us : these are to be reverenced. Let all who do not obey them 
cease from those hypocritical wiles by which they claim the name 
— the alien name — of the true religion, and let them be branded 
with the shame of their manifested crimes. Let them be kept 
entirely away from even the thresholds of the churches, since 
we shall allow no heretics to hold their unlawful assemblies 


within the towns. If they attempt any outbreak we order that 
their rage shall be queUed, and that they shall be cast forth 
outside the walls of the cities, so that the Catholic Churches 
throughout the whole world be restored to the Orthodox pre- 
lates who hold the Nicene Faith" (Hodgkin, Italy and Her 
Invaders, i., 368). 

Persecution is always sad, but it is doubly sad wlien the 
ortlio«;lox persecute. For three centuries the Church had strug- 
gled on, far from perfect, yet maintaining a certain purity and 
sincerity which compelled the admiration of unbelievers. In 
the fourth century a good king, Constantine, took it under his 
patronage and gave it an official status and the salt quickly 
lost its savour : — 

" Whilst the sanctifying and beatifying doctrines of the 
Gospel which point to the conversion of the inner man were 
suffered to lie inactive, every one from the emperor to the 
beggar occupied liimself with incredible earnestness in the 
discussion of propositions, concerning which the Gospel com- 
municates just so much as is profitable to us and necessary to 
salvation ". 

" This contentious spirit has torn asunder the Church ; 
thrown cities into commotion, driven the people to take up 
arms, and excited princes against one another ; separated the 
priests from the congregation and the congregation from the 
priests. Everything which bears a holy name lias been pro- 
faned ; . . . and we are divided, not merely tribe against tribe, 
as was Israel of old, but house against house, family against 
family, nay, almost every one is distracted within liimself " 
(Ulmann's Gregory of Nazianzum). 

The stirring events of the fourth century were fruitful in 
producing theologians whose names have been handed down to 
posterity. Unfortunately these men have the title of saint 
prefixed to their names and have thus been removed to a plane 
above that occupied by ordinary mortals, and endowed ^^^th 
semi-supernatural qualities. As a matter of fact they were 
ordinary men, not materially different from the hard-working 


ministers of the Gospel by whom we are surrounded in the 
present day. It has suited certain persons to invent legends 
about them at which they would have been the first to laugh, 
and painters have placed halos above their heads. But they 
were merely clergymen who had their virtues, and, unfor- 
tunately, also their faults, for some of them, as we shall see, 
were bad tempered and overbearing. If we can forget all about 
this spurious saintship and think of the Fathers of the Church 
as men of hke passions with ourselves we shall profit in a much 
greater degree by reading the story of tlieir lives. 

Athanasius. — The greatest theologian of the fourth cen- 
tury was Athanasius. The name of this great fhvine has been 
associated with a creed of a stern and uncompromising charac- 
ter, and if we would appreciate the man we must begin by 
realising that he did not write the creed. It is of much later 

Athanasius was born in Alexandria in 296. His first public 
325. appearance was at the Council of Nicasa, which he attended in 
company witli his superior, the bishop of Alexandria. He was 
then twenty-nine years of age, a man with a diminutive figure 
and a slight stoop, but with a beautiful face, keen eyes, and a 
most keen intelligence. 

The council was summoned to decide the Arian controversy, 
and Athanasius evidently felt that in opposing Arianism he was 
defending the honour of his Lord. His dialectic gifts were 
manifest to all, and he was quickly recognised as the most dis- 
tinguished champion present on the orthodox side. 

Three years later Bishop Alexander died and Athanasius 
was chosen to succeed him. For nearly half a century after 
his election he led the orthodox party, liolding to his opinions 
against all comers, and amidst all vicissitudes, with the utmost 

As Arius was a presbyter of Alexandria, the battle between 
orthodoxy and Arianism raged in that city with special fury. 
After the Nicene Council Arius and certain of his followers, 


among whom was Eusebius, bishop of Nicomedia, were excom- 
municated and exiled. When, shortly after, Constantine modi- 
fied his views he recalled Eusebius, and gave Arius permission 
to return to Alexandria. Eusebius requested Athanasius to 
readmit Arius into the Church, but he refused, and when the 
emperor himself interfered, and even threatened punishment, 
Athanasius stood firm, Constantine, himself great, could re- 
cognise greatness, and forbore to carry matters to an extremity. 
Later, when charges were brought against Athanasius by his 332. 
enemies, the emperor honourably acquitted him, declaring him 
to be " a man of God ", 

The somewhat unreasonable attitude taken up by Atha- 
nasius led to disturbances, and further charges were brought 
against him. Constantine did not credit the charges, but 
thought it better that Athanasius should leave Alexandria, and 
accordingly banished him to Treves. The banishment was 336, 
only nominal, for Treves was a beautiful city, the seat of 
government of Constantine's eldest son, who treated Athana- 
sius with every courtesy. He spent two and a half years in 
the city, corresponding freely with his old friends in Alex- 
andria. Arius died shortly after, and soon Constantine him- 
self passed away. The son, now one of three emperors, sent 
Athanasius back to his see, and he was received with rejoicing. 333 

Under the successors of the great emperor Athanasius had 
a stormy career. As bishop of Alexandria he was subject to 
Constantius, who was an Arian. Plots were laid for his over- 
throw, and Gregory, an Arian bishop, was sent to depose him. 
Athanasius withdrew and went to Rome. This was his second 
exile. He was accompanied by two youthful Egyptian monks, 341. 
Ammonius and Isidore. These were dressed in monkish garb, 
and were at first ridiculed in Rome, but afterwards made a deep 

Athanasius remained in Rome three years, and did much 
to confirm the Latin Church in its adhesion to orthodoxy. He 
may be said also to have introduced monasticism into Rome. 
Constans befriended Athanasius, and persuaded his brother 343. 


Constantius to meet him in conference on religious matters at 
Sardica, a town in Moesia. At this conference the innocence 
of Athanasius was declared, and the famous canon was enacted 
which provided for a reference in certain cases to the bishop 
of Rome. 

345. When Gregory died Constantius reinstated Athanasius, and 

he returned to Alexandria, the whole population pouring forth 
to greet him. 

350. By the death of Constans Athanasius lost a protector, for 

Constantius who now ruled in the West as well as in the East 
was an Arian. New plots were formed for his ruin, and the 
Councils of Aries and Milan pronounced against him. After 

355. the Council of Milan the emperor proceeded to eject Athanasius 
from his see by force. He gave orders to the general of the 
Egyptian army, who encompassed a church in which Athana- 
sius had taken refuge. There was much disorder and blood- 
shed, but Athanasius withdrew safely from Alexandria. During 
this his third exile he lived in the desert, liiding in monastic 
cells, cottages and caves. He wrote much during this period, 
and if his words were at times passionate it is not to be greatly 
wondered at. 

361. When JuHan succeeded, being an idolater and indifferent to 
Christianity, lie permitted exiled bishops to return to their 

362. sees. Athanasius returned among the rest, but opposed idol- 
atry so vigorously that Julian threatened his life and he had 
to fly for the fourth time. Julian's reign was brief, and when 
Jovian, who was an orthodox Christian, succeeded, Athanasius 
again returned to his flock. 

Jovian's reign was also brief, and he was succeeded by Valen- 
tinian I., who governed the Western Empire, committing the 
care of the Eastern to his brother Valens, 
365. Valens, who was an Arian, endured Athanasius for a time, 

but afterwards issued an order that all bishops expeUed by 
Constantius and recalled by Julian should be again expelled, 
so Athanasius had again to fly. During this, his fifth and last 
exile he is said to have lived for four months in a tomb. The 


manner of burying the dead in Egypt is peculiar and tombs 
are not unsuitable for habitation, so it is likely enough. 

At length an order of reinstatement was made, and Atha- 366. 
nasius, now seventy years of age, was led back to his church. 
He was not again driven forth, and for seven years lived in 
peace, toiling earnestly at literary and pastoral work. His 
writings were numerous, and such as remain are liighly prized, 
but the creed which bears his name was not composed by him. 
It was probably written about the middle of the fifth century, 
and its real author is unknown. 

Athanasius was a great man, religious in a true sense, 
reverent, and loyal to liis Redeemer. He was of a sensitive 
disposition, and affectionate to his friends. To his enemies he 
was perhaps over severe, but something may be forgiven to a 
man who was chased about so incessantly for conscience sake. 
His persistence did not spring from obstinacy but from the 
conviction that on the view which he advocated the very 
existence of Christianity depended. 

Firm though Athanasius was, he always deprecated the use 
of violent means. 

" Notliing," he said, " more forcibly marks the weakness of 
a bad cause than persecution, Satan, who has no truth to 
propose to men, comes with axe and sword to make way for 
his errors. Christ's method is widely different. He teaches 
the truth, and says : ' If any man will come after Me and be 
My disciple, . . , ' If we open He comes in : if we will not 
open He retires ; for the truth is not preached with swords 
and spears, not by bands of soldiers, but by counsel aud per- 
suasion" (tr. from Witnesses for Christ, Backhouse & Tylor, 
vol. i., p. 37). 



In the third century, during the reigns of Valerian and Gal- 
lienus, the Goths ravaged the Eastern Empire, and, crossing 
into Asia, invaded Cappadocia and Galatia. They returned 
laden with spoil, bringing many captives. Amongst the cap- 
tives were Christians, and these induced some of their con- 
querors to embrace Christianity, and made the beginnings of 
a Church. Tliat Christianity made progress amongst them is 
clear from the fact that a certain Theopliilus, bishop from 
Goethia, was present at the first Nicene Council in 325. The 
ancestors of Ulfilas, the apostle of the Goths, are believed to 
have been amongst the Cappadocian captives. 

311. Ulfilas was born about 311, and was well educated. Whilst 

still young he was sent as one of an embassy to the court of 

332. Constantine, and he remained at Constantinople perhaps as a 
hostage for some years. Durmg this period he made himself a 
master of the Greek and Latin languages. He also became 
acquainted with Eusebius, the Arian bishop of Nicomedia, by 
whom he was consecrated bishop of the Goths. As we have 
seen he was not the first who had borne that title. 

343. After his consecration, being now thirty-two years of age, 

Ulfilas returned beyond the Danube, and preached the Gospel 
to his countrymen. So successful were liis labours that Atha- 
naric, prince of the Goths, believing Christianity to be conceived 
in the Roman interest, began to persecute its professors. So 
bitter did the persecution become that Ulfilas obtained the per- 
mission of Constantius to bring a party of Gothic Christians 

across the Danube and within the limits of the empire. They 



were well received by the emperor, and settled in Moesia, re- 
ceiving lands at the foot of the Balkans. Here they cultivated 
small holdings and struggled on, Ulfilas dwelling among them 
as teacher and governor. 

That Ulfilas might the more freely spread the Gospel among 
his countrymen, he translated the Bible into Gothic. The Runic 
alphabet used by the Goths being unsuitable he invented a new 
alphabet of twenty-five letters based upon the Greek. This 
work marks an era in Church history. It was the first mis- 
sionary Bible, the first translation of the Scriptures into the 
tongue of an unlettered people. 

Ulfilas translated all the Bible except the Books of Samuel 
and Kings. These he omitted lest they should encourage his 
countrymen to war, of which they were already sufficiently fond. 

Ulfilas' translation of the Bible was lost for many centuries, 
but in the beginning of the sixteenth century a manuscript was 
discovered in a Westphalian monastery containing about half 
the text of the four Gosj^els. This manuscript is now at 
Upsala. It is known as the Codex Argenteus, and is on 
purple vellum in letters of silver, a few words at the beginning 
of each section being in gold. It is believed to have been 
written in Italy, perhaps at Ravenna, about a century after 
the death of Ulfilas. Other manuscripts have been since dis- 
covered, by means of which a considerable portion of Paul's 
Epistles and parts lacking from the four Gospels have been 
supplied, as well as verses from Nehemiah and the Psalms, and 
references to passages in the Books of Genesis and Numbers. 

The manuscripts thus recovered are of priceless value. They 
form amongst them the greatest monument of the Gothic lan- 
guage extant ; a specimen of a Teutonic language three cen- 
turies earlier tlian any other that has been preserved. By 
means of these writings the philologist can trace the affinity 
between the Gothic of Ulfilas and the English of to-day. They 
also form an important link between ancient Sanscrit and the 
Teutonic tongue. 

In his old age Ulfilas still retained his influence. When a 


schism arose in the ranks of the Arians and no one else could 
heal it Theodosius sent for Ulfilas. He came, but the journey 
383. was too much for his strength, and in Constantinople he sickened 
and died. 

The translation of the Bible made by their great bishop was 
long regarded by tlie Goths and Vandals with superstitious awe. 
They carried it with them on their wanderings through Europe. 
It was taken to Rome and thence by the Vandals through Spain, 
across to Africa, and back to Rome. They had a habit of con- 
sulting it on the battlefield before the fight began, opening it by 
chance in the hope of finding a passage which would give them 
a favourable omen. If the Gothic method seems to us to be 
simple we must at least confess that it was a wonderful advance 
upon the method of the philosophic Greeks and warlike Romans 
who chose the auspicious moment from the appearance of the 
entrails of newly slain birds. Indeed the old Gothic habit finds 
reverent imitators among simple-minded folk even to the present 

Ulfilas was a great man and used his life in a truly great 
way. To retranslate the sacred books into the language of 
culture as so many have done is a great task, but to translate 
them into the language of an unlettered race is a greater. It 
has been often done since, but the Gothic missionary showed 
men the way. And he did what he did not in the interest of 
philology, or in order to make himself famous, but merely that 
he might carry the Gospel to his people. 

Ulfilas was not orthodox and there may have been many 
things in his views to which we would take exception. But we 
may speak of him as Constantine spoke of Athanasius. Ulfilas 
was a true " man of God," and the Teutonic races owe him a 
great debt of gratitude for his self-denying labours. 

Basil. — We may regard Athanasius as a representative of 
the African and Ulfilas as a representative of the Gothic 
Church, and shall now deal with a representative of the Church 
in Asia Minor. 

BASIL 269 

Basilius, commonly called Basil the Great, was born at 329. 
Caesarea, the chief city of Cappadocia. Hi.s parents were 
Christians, and he was trained in his early years in the 
Christian faith. His mother Emmelia and his sister Macrina 
were both devoted Christians. 

After distinguishing himself at school in Csesarea Basil 351. 
went to Constantinople, and thence to Athens. Among his 
fellow students at the university there were Prince Julian, the 
nephew of Constantine, and Gregory Nazianzen, both of whom 
were destined to become famous. Gregory and Basil, both 
very much in earnest, became fast friends. " We knew," says 
Gregory, " only two streets of the city : the first which led to 
the churches and the ministers of the altar ; the other to the 
schools and the teachers of the sciences. The streets which led 
to the theatres, games and other places of unholy amusement, 
we left to others. Holiness was our chief concern ; our sole 
aim was to be called Christians, and to be such." 

Basil spent five years at Athens and then returned to 
Caesarea, where he practised as an advocate and taught rhe- 
toric. He was successful and became worldly and proud. His 
sister Macrina found him acting the fine gentleman and remon- 
strated with him. Unfortunately at this time the theory was 
current that one must either be a worldling or a recluse, so 
Basil determined to abandon his profession and retire from the 

As a preliminary to retirement Basil left Caesarea and spent 357, 
some time wandering over Syria and Egypt, visiting the more 
famous of the ascetics who lived there. He resolved in some 
degree to imitate their example, and, reminding Gregory of 
early vows, begged him to join him in retirement. Gregory 
was living with his parents and was loth to leave them in their 
old age, so he proposed that Basil should live with him near his 
home. Basil agreed, but when he came to Arianzus he found 
the place so uncongenial that he did not continue to dwell there. 
Returning home he fixed on a spot near Annesi in Pontus 
where his mother and sister had estabHshed a sisterhood. Here 


he lived for live years and acquired such a reputation for 
sanctity that devotees gathered around him until the retreat 
became hke a village. Gregory joined him for a time, but was 
not happy, and declared that he should have been starved to 
death but for Basil's mother. 

Though there were monastic institutions before the time of 
Basil, he generally gets the credit for having established them 
as agencies of the Christian Church. There had long been 
hermits, indeed from the very earliest times. But Basil per- 
ceived the superiority of the monastic to the solitary life. He 
tried the latter for a time, but found, as he very correctly puts 
it, that he was only like a man who being sea-sick tried to 
escape the rolling of a ship by getting into a boat. For the 
hermit he thought the temptation to idleness was too great to 
be overcome, and he thus made little spiritual progress. He 
advised, therefore, that a man should not go into the wilderness 
by himself, but that he should seek out a few like-minded men 
and live in communion. 

Basil did not believe in idleness. His monks prayed hard, 
worked hard and lived hard lives. He ruined his own health 
by asceticism, and most of the Fathers did the same. But he 
obtained a high reputation for sanctity, and monasteries sprang 
up on all sides as the result of his preaching. 

Basil did well, but he would have done better had he rea- 
lised that sanctity is best attainable in connection with the 
family life which the Creator has ordained for man, and that 
nobility of character is best developed, not by flying from the 
evil which is in the world, but by bravely lighting it. The 
views of Chrysostom, of whom we shall speak later, were much 
more rational upon this matter than those of Basil. 

" The monk," Chrysostom writes, " lives in a calm, where 
there is little to oppose him. The skill of the pilot cannot be 
known till he has taken the helm in the open sea in rough 
weather. Too many of those who have passed from the seclu- 
sion of the cloister to the active sphere of the priest or bishop, 
have lost their heads ; and often, instead of adding to their 

BASIL 271 

virtue, have been deprived of the good qualities which they 
already posessed. Monasticism often serves as a screen to 
failings which active life draws out, just as the qualities of 
metal are tested by fire " (Stephen's Life of St. Chrysostom). 

When Julian ascended the throne it was his desire to have 
his early associates around him, and he invited Basil to Con- 
stantinople. But as the emperor had declared himself on the 
side of paganism, Basil very properly refused to come. Julian 
was much offended, and some time afterwards, taking occasion 
from some riotous conduct in Csesarea, he fined Basil 1,000 
pounds of gold. The fine was probably not meant seriously, 
and Basil pointed out how absurd it was to ask such a sum 
from a man who had scarcely enough to buy a meal. Julian 
was angry with both Basil and Gregory, and threatened to 
punish them when he returned from his Persian campaign. 
Probably he would have thought better of it, but in any case 
he never returned. 

At this time Basil was not ordained. He shrank from the 
priesthood, and was ordained by Eusebius, the bishop of 
Csesarea, greatly against his will. Gregory had been ordained 362. 
notwithstanding similar reluctance shortly before. It is not 
easy for a modern to understand the theory of ordination which 
led to such results. After ordination Basil was of great use to 
the bishop of Coesarea. Valens was then reigning, a strong 
Arian, and it required much courage to keep the banner of 
orthodoxy flying. 

When Eusebius died Basil believed that it was essential to 370. 
the well-being of the Church in Cappadocia that he should be 
his successor. Elections of bishops in the Church were at this 
time not conducted in anything like reputable fashion. Since 
the days of Constantine the bishop was of political as well as 
ecclesiastical importance, and where political feeling ran high 
the election was accompanied by tumult and even bloodshed. 
The true qualifications for such an office were little considered. 
One man was recommended because he was of aristocratic 
family, another because he was rich, a third because he was an 


ardent politician. Bribery and undue influence were freely 
resorted to. 

The election of Basil led to unseemly canvassing and to a 
deceitful action on his part which was the cause of estrange- 
ment between him and Gregory, and which made an ugly stain 
upon his character. It was unfortunately too much the habit 
for ecclesiastics in the early Church to argue that the end justi- 
fied the means. There was not that robust regard for truth 
among the clergy to which we are happily now accustomed. 

Basil was appointed, and soon his fame as a bishop spread 
far and wide. Many came to visit him, and his influence was 
not bounded by his diocese. But the times were troublous, for 
Valens reigned and Arianism was triumphant in the Eastern 
Empire. Basil stood up valiantly for the orthodox faith; re- 
sisting Valens and all the influence he brought to bear with a 
courage unsurpassed even by Athanasius himself. 

Basil tried hard to persuade Gregory to be his coadjutor, 
but Gregory had not forgotten his deception and declined the 
office. Afterwards the friendship was resumed, but Basil 
treated Gregory so badly that the finer nature of Gregory 
again revolted, and the friendship was permanently broken. 

Meanwhile Basil had been warring strenuously against 
Valens, who was carrying on a crusade against the Catholics. 
Many provinces had yielded to Arian influence, but Cappadocia 
still held out and its fate depended upon Basil. When a band 
of bishops arrived, accompanied by imperial officers, hoping to 
overawe the bishop by their numbers and importance they 
could not move him. 

When Modestus, prefect of the Pretorium, threatened con- 
fiscation, exile, torture, death, Basil said that such threats were 
powerless to move one whose sole wealth consisted of a ragged 
cloak and a few books, to whom the earth was but a pilgrim- 
age, whose feeble body would expire at the first stroke of 
torture, and to whom death would be a relief. 

When Valens himself visited the bishop and entered the 
Church of Caesarea with bis retinvie, he was so impressed by 

BASIL 273 

the sincerity of the preacher and the solemnity of the vast 
congregation that he refused to exile him as he had intended. 

The invasion of the Goths at length put an end to persecu- 377. 
tion, and Valens perished in the terrible battle at Hadrianople. 
Gratian, the emperor of the West, belonged to the Catholic 
party, and so did Theodosius, whom he summoned to the Eastern 
throne. There would therefore have been happier times for 
Basil had he lived. But liis frame was worn out, and he died 379. 
at fifty, old before liis time. 

Basil left many writings, including nearly 400 letters full 
of human interest. He was a proud man, very masterful, and 
having impHcit confidence in himself. With less self-confidence 
he would have had more friends. He did much service at a 
critical time, and was a valiant defender of the faith, and but for 
liis self-sufficiency and the crookedness of his methods at times 
he might have had a claim to greatness. But lie fell short of 
being a great man. 

Some of his words show that at times he lived on a high 
spiritual level. 

" We naturally love the beautiful. . . . What more admir- 
able than the Divine beauty ? What conception more attractive 
than the Majesty of God ? " 

" Our Lord Jesus Christ, who endured a most shameful 
death that He might restore us to the glorious life, exacts no 
recompense, but is satisfied if He be only loved for what He 
gave. When I tliink of these tilings, I am in an ecstasy of 
fear lest ever, through inattention of mind or occupation with 
vanities, I should fall from the love of God, and become a re- 
proach to Christ " (Smith, >S^. Basil the Great). 

VOL. II. 18 



Gregory Nazianzen. — In speaking of Basil we had frequent 
330. occasion to mention his friend Gregory. Gregory was born at 
Arianzus in Cappadocia, in the diocese of Nazianzus, of which 
liis father was bishop. His mother was sincerely rehgious, but 
unfortunately also narrow minded, refusing to hold friendly 
intercourse with the heathen, of whom there were still many in 
the empire. Gregory met Basil at school in Csesarea, and at 
the university of Athens they became fast friends. 
356. When Gregory left Athens, at the age of thirty, he was 

anxious to consecrate his powers to God's service. As his 
parents were aged, he very properly desired to dwell with 
them, and endeavoured to make full consecration harmonise 
with daily duty. Unfortunately his idea of consecration 
involved monkish practices not easily carried out in private life. 
The thoughts which were in his mind at this time found utter- 
ance in exquisite lines which have been translated by Cardinal 
Newman ; — 

Long was the inward strife, tijl ended thus : 

I saw, when men lived in the fretful world, 

They vantaged other men, but missed the while 

The calmness, and the pureness of their hearts. 

They who retired held an uprighter post. 

And raised their eyes with quiet strength toward heaven ; 

Yet served self only, unfraternally. 

And so, 'twixt these and those, I struck my path, 

To meditate witli the free solitary, 

Yet to live secular, and serve mankind. 

Gregory did not find it easy to be in the world, and yet not 

of the world, and, although we beHeve this to be the ideal life, 



yet we can understand how the semi-idolatrous society of that 
time was so permeated by corruption that f^ood men were 
driven to despair, and came to tlio conclusion that one wlio 
desired to live a holy life must leave the world. 

Gregory tried to live a hermit life at Arianzus, and in^^ted 
Basil to join him. Basil came, but was not enamoured of the 
place, so ho returned and startcul a monastery ol' liis own. 'J\) 
this retreat he invited Gregory, and they lived together for a 
time. But however much Gregory might enjoy the com- 
munion, he found Basil's conception of cloister life too severe 
for his somewhat delicate frame. " Never shall I forget," he 
writes, perhaps partly in jest, "the brotli and the bread; 
bread so hard that the teeth made no impression, and when 
they did effect an entrance were set fast as in a paste. Unless 
that true lady-bountiful, thy mother, had promptly come to 
my help, I had been dead long ago." Yet he could also say : 
" O that I could live again the sweet time we spent in the 
study of the Divine Oracles, and enjoy the light which, through 
the guidance of tlie Spirit, we found in them ", 

Gregory was in the path of duty at home, for his father, 
the bishop of Nazianzus, was extremely aged, and needed his 
son's support in his declining years. His father insisted on his 
ordination, and at length he yieldt^d. Like Basil, he shrank 
from the priesthood, but the shrinking in each case arose from 
a perverted view with regard to the nature of the lioly office. 
Instead of looking upon the priest as the servant and loving- 
instructor of the people, they regarded him as a mediator be- 
tween God and man. For tliis office they counted themselves 
unfit, and they were right. 

After ordination Gregory fled for a time from his charge, 
and so offended the Church that, when he returned, the people 
demanded a public apology. Gregory replied in a dissertation 
upon pastoral duty, which remains famous until tliis day. 

When Basil was contesting the election to the bishopric of 
Coesarea, he desired to obtain the help of Gregory, and fearing 
that his friend would shrink from the business in hand he pre- 


tended to be dangerously iD. When Gregory discovered the 
fraud he was intensely grieved and was never again so friendly 
with Basil. Afterwards he tried to forgive and forget, but 
Basil dragged him into a quarrel which he had with a neigh- 
bouring bishop. He went further, for entirely against Gre- 
gory's better judgment he coerced him into accepting ordination 
as a suffragan bishop to a see which he had himself created. It 
was at Sasima, an obscure town where Gregory's talents would 
have been quite buried, and it landed him in constant conflict 
with a rival bishop. Gregory's gentle nature revolted, he 
refused to act, and the friendship between the men was broken. 
Basil was a man bent upon having his own way ; Gregory was 
sensitive and yielding by nature. But even Gregory could be 
severe at times. His attacks upon Julian are not pleasant 
reading, and manifest very little of the spirit of Christ. His 
fulsome praise of Constantius is even harder to understand. 
This emperor, who began his career by wholesale assassination, 
and continued to support impiety and to persecute good men, is 
spoken of as " the most divine and Christ-loving of emperors, 
whose great soul is summoned from heaven ". 

Basil and Gregory were good men, and did good work at a 
time when good work was sorely needed. They were inferior 
to Athanasius in spirit, though perhaps his equals in mental 
endowment. They lived in difficult times, and we who live in 
easy times must not judge them harshly. But it would be 
absurd to imagine that they were possessed of qualities which 
entitle us to consider them superior to other Christiana in the 
matter of saintship. 
374. Gregory acted as his father's coadjutor until he died, dis- 

regarding the bishopric of Sasima to which Basil had appointed 
him. After his father's death he entered a monastery in 
Isauria and lived for three years in seclusion. 

The long persecution to which the orthodox faith had 
been subjected by Valens had so discouraged and reduced its 
adherents that, in Constantinople, they were now but a small 
flock without church or bishop. When Valens was slain 


and Gratian was for a time sole emperor the Catholics took 
courage and invited Gregory to be their pastor. Having 
assented, he began liis ministrations by preaching in a private 
hoase. His preaching attracted attention and he soon became 
famoas. Daring this period one of his adherents was Hiero- 
nymous, better known as Jerome. Jerome speaks of Gregory 
as a " most eloquent man from whom I learned to expound the 
Scriptures ". 

When Theodosius became emperor Gregory was appointed 380. 
bishop at Constantinople. But his enjoyment of the distinction 
was brief. It was a time of bitter conflict, and Gregory was 
not a party man. When therefore he found that he could not 
persuade the clergy to live at peace, he resigned his charge and 
again went into retirement. 

" If any of our friends," he writes, " should inquire about 
Gregory, say that he is enjoying in perfect quiet a philosopliical 
Ufe, and that he troubles himself as little about liis enemies as 
he does about persons of whose existence he knows nothing." 

Invited to attend a synod at Constantinople, he replied : 382. 
" I am in such a temper of mind that I shun every assemblage 
of bishops, because I have never yet seen a good issue to any 
synoil, have never been present at any which did not do more 
for the multiplication than for the suppression of evils ". 

Gregory's preaching was very practical and often very 
elevating in character. We have blamed him for his invective 
against Julian ; let us praise him for the following : — 

" Do not rashly condemn thy brother. It is like pulling up 
with the weeds the hidden fruit which is possibly of more value 
than thou art. Raise up thy brother gently and lovingly. 
Learn to know thyself in the spirit of humility and to search 
out thy own inflrmities. It is not one and the same thing to 
pull up or destroy a plant or a man. Thou art an image of 
God and thou hast to do with an image of God — thou who 
judgest wilt thyself be judged. In our Father's house are 
many mansions, and the ways which lead to them are Narious." 

Gregory was a poet of considerable merit. We have already 


seen some of his lines ; let us conclude our sketch with others, 
which will not only help us to appreciate his devotional char- 
acter, but also show us how little after all, the thoughts of 
men have varied throughout the centuries. 

What lies before me ? Where shall set my day ? 

Where shall these weary limbs at length repose ? 
What hospitable tomb receive my clay ? 

What hands at last ray failing eyes shall close ? 
Whose eyes will watch me — eyes with pity fraught, 
Some friend of Christ's ? Or those who know Him not ? 

Or shall no tomb, as in a casket, lock 
This frame, when laid a weight of breathless clay, 

Left without burial on the desert rock, 

Or thrown in scorn to birds and beasts of prey, 

Consumed and cast in haudfuls on the air, 

Or ^^unk in some dark stream to perish there? 

This as thou wilt. The day will all unite, 

Wherever scattered, when thy word is said ; 
Rivers of flame, abysses without light. 

Thy great Tribunal, these alone I dread : 
But Thou, Christ, art fatherland to me, 
Strength, wealth, repose, yea all, I find in Thee. 

340. Ambrose. — This celebrated leader of the Christian Church 

was born in Gaul. His father, a prajtorian prefect, devoted him 
to the legal profession, and in this he advanced rapidly until he 
became consular magistrate at Milan. 

374. When Ambrose was thirty-four years of age the bishop of 

Milan died, and a fierce dispute arose between the Catholics and 
Arians as to his successor. At one election meeting held in a 
church there was so much excitement that a riot was feared, 
and Ambrose was called in as magistrate to restore peace. 
Whilst he was remonstrating with the throng some one shouted, 
" Ambrose for bishop," and the suggestion was taken up with 
the utmost enthusiasm. Ambrose was not in holy orders, was 
not even baptised, but he was a man in whom the people had 
full confidence. They would take no refusal, and notwithstand- 
ing his strenuous opposition he was elected and consecrated to 
the office. 


After his appointment Ambrose threw himself whole heart- 
edly into his work, giving himself wholly to the study of 
theology and the administration of his diocese. The dignity of 
the magistrate and the zeal of the Churchman combined with 
considerable mental endowments to produce an ecclesiastic of a 
type then somewhat unusual. " Ambrose," says Milman, " was 
the spiritual ancestor of the Hildebrands and the Innocents." 

Ambrose fell in with the mistaken notions about celibacy 
which were then taking hold of the priesthood, and went even 
so far as to praise girls who took the veil without their parents' 
consent. He also fostered the rage for relics, and the belief 
that they were capable of curing disease. It must also be noted 
that the first clear sanction of the invocation of angels is in the 
wi-itings of Ambrose. But there were times when he showed 
clearer vision. The Gothic invasions had brought much misery 
upon the inhabitants of Thrace and Illyricum, and many had 
been carried into captivity. Ambrose set himself to redeem 
the captives. Collections were made in the churches, the 
treasure chests were emptied, and, when all did not sufiice, the 
sacramental vessels were melted down and sold for the good 
cause. " The Church," Ambrose wrote, " possesses gold, not to 
hoard, but to distribute for the welfare and happiness of men." 

Ambrose had a long tenure of ofiice and saw many em- 
perors, Valentinian I., Gratian, Valentinian II., and Theodosius 
reigned during his time, and though he was a domineering 
man, he was useful, and his relations with them were generally 

Gratian passed ordinances confiscating the property of the 
temples and taking away the privileges of the heathen priests. 
Through the influence of Ambrose, Gratian refused to amend 
the ordinances, and when Valentinian II. succeeded, through 
the same influence they were confirmed. 

When Gratian was preparing to assist Valens against the 
Goths, knowing that his colleague was an intense Arian, he 
asked Ambrose to write a treatise for him in defence of the ortho- 
dox faith. The treatise known as De Fide was the result. 


At times Ambrose carried his zeal for orthodoxy so far as 
to be unjust. When he was asked to allow even one church to 
386. be devoted to Arian worship in the city of Milan he refused. 
There were many Arians amongst the Gothic auxiliaries in 
Milan, and the action of Ambrose was as tyrannous and narrow- 
minded as it would be for the British Government to deny to 
Catholic soldiers the consolations of their religion. When the 
dowager-empress, who was herself an Arian, first pleaded with 
him and afterwards tried to coerce him, he attacked her from 
the pulpit, calling her a Jezebel and a Herodias. The young 
emperor, a boy of fourteen, protested against this treatment of 
his mother in vain. 

In a former chapter we saw how Ambrose erred in another 
matter. When the Jewish synagogue at Callinicum had been 
burned by a Christian mob, and Theodosius ordered that the 
bishop should rebuild it, Ambrose stood forth as champion of 
the wrongdoers. 

" I protest," he said, " that I myself would have burnt the 
synagogue. ... If the bishop shall comply with the man- 
date he will be an apostate. . . . What has been done is but 
a trifling retaliation for the acts of plunder and destruction 
perpetrated by the Jews and heretics against the Catholics." 
Ambrose knew not what spirit he was of. 

When Theodosius persisted Ambrose attacked him from 
the pulpit, and, by threatening to withhold communion, com- 
pelled him to cancel the order. Thus do we perceive how in 
the history of the Cliristian Church superstition and priestly 
tyranny have ever advanced hand in hand. 
390. Two years later the massacre of Thessalonica, of which we 

have also already spoken, took place. Brotheric, the com- 
mandant, had imprisoned a popular charioteer for abominable 
crime. The races came on and the people demanded that their 
favourite should be released, and when Brotheric refused they 
murdered him and his staff. Theodosius was justly enraged. 
Ambrose pleaded for mercy, but he had already condoned the 
riot at Callinicum, and the household officers determined that 


he should not condone tliis. According-ly they obtained secret 
instructions from Theodosius with the terrible results already 

Ambrose called the emperor to repentance, and when he pre- 
sented himself at the church refused him admittance. At the 
end of eight months Theodosius performed penance publicly. 
Laying aside his royal garments, he lay prostrate upon the 
pavement, crying, " My soul cleaveth unto the dust, quicken 
Thou me, according to Thy word ". 

The massacre of Thessalonica was a sad stain upon the 
character of Theodosius. But the provocation was terrible 
and the repentance was sincere. We should admire the atti- 
tude of the bishop more did we not know that Theodosius had 
but carried out the doctrine of retaliation which the bishop had 
laid down. The mighty emperor, who humbled himself in the 
presence of his Maker and before the people, was nearer the 
kingdom of God than the haughty and inconsistent prelate. 

It is pleasant to know that Theodosius bore Ambrose no 
grudge for his severity, but rather esteemed him the more. 395. 
On his death-bed he committed his sons Arcadius and Honorius 
to his care. But two years later Ambrose himself passed 397. 

Ambrose had much musical taste, and improved Church 
music, especially of the antiphonal order. Amongst the writ- 
ings wliich he left are several hymns. The following verses 
were favourites of Augustine, who declared that he owed much 
to the influence of Bishop Ambrose : — 


Eternal Maker of the world, 

Who rulest both the night and day, 
With order'd times dividing Time, 

Our toil and sorrow to allay. 

The watchful herald of the dawn 

Announces day with trumpet shrill ; 
Lamp to the wayfarer at night, 

Night from itself dividing still. 


The morning star arising bright 

Dissolves the darkness from the sky ; 

And, startled from their baleful schemes, 
The arm^d powers of darkness fly. 

The mariner reknits his strength ; 

The stormy sea is lull'd to sleep ; 
And Peter, called the Church's Rock, 

Hearing this sound, his sin doth weep. 

Jesus, upon the falling look. 
And looking, heal us, Lord, we pray ; 

For at Thy look the fallen rise, 
And guilt in tears dissolves away. 

Do Thou, our Light, illume our sense, 
Do thou our minds from slumber free ; 

For Thee our voices first proclaim. 
And with our lips we sing to Thee. 



John Chrysostom. — The name by wliich this distin<^^ui.shccl 
Father of the Church was known during his life was John. 
The surname " Clirysostom " (golden mouthed), was a compU- 
ment added during the fifth century. 

Chrysostom was born at Antioch. His fatlier was a mili- 347. 
tary officer, but his mother, a sincere Christian, was left a 
widow at twenty, and determined not to marry again in order 
that she might devote herself wholly to the education of her 

After his early studies Chrysostom became an advocate, but 
after some experience of the profession determined to abandon 
it in favour of the monastic life. His mother, however, having 
given up so much for him pleaded that he would not desert her, 
and like Gregory Nazianzen he determined to lead a conse- 
crated life without leaving his home. 

After the death of liis mother Chrysostom retired to a 
monastery on the mountains to the south of Antioch. Here 
he spent four happy years. But finding the monastery too 
comfortable for his purpose he left it and took up his abode in 
a cave. Here lie spent two years in hardship and solitude. 
The result was that he returned to his home in Antioch in 
broken health. 

Chrysostom taught as a deacon for five years, and then was 386. 
ordained presbyter. In tliis capacity he toiled hard for ten 
years, preacliing several times weekly. Whenever he preached 
the church was thronged, and there is a modern suggestiveness 

in the fact that he liad to warn his hearers to beware of pick- 



pockets. But Chrysostom was not carried away by popular 
applause. " Most men listen," he said, " not for improvement, 
but to be pleased, and to criticise, just as though a player or 
musician were before them." The habit of congregations has 
not altered materially in tliis respect. In other matters habits 
have altered, for it is interesting to know that in the days of 
Chrysostom the congregation stood and the preacher remained 

After the death of Theodosius I., Arcadius his son became 
emperor at Constantinople, and Eutropius was his chief minister 
of State. The bishop of Constantinople died about the same 
time, and Eutropius elected Chrysostom to the see. 

Chysostom would naturally expect that liis sphere of use- 
fulness would be increased in the capital, but this did not 
prove to be the case. His predecessor had been a free living 
man, and neither court nor clergy desired to have a bishop who 
lived an ascetic life and despised social intercourse. But Chrys- 
ostom lived on simple fare and avoided the company of the 
great. Moreover, he endeavoured to reform the Church, and 
attacked the prevailing corruption fearlessly from the pulpit. 
Thus he raised up many enemies. He had himself to thank in 
some measure for this, for he did not attempt to keep his 
temper under control, and he rather enjoyed hitting hard. This 
delighted the common people and they thronged to hear him, 
but the court party and the clerical dignitaries did not enjoy it. 

Chrysostom did excellent work among the Goths. They 
were now numerous in the neighbourhood of the capital, and 
he set apart a church for Divine service in their native tongue. 
The Bible was read in Ultilas' version, and sermons were de- 
livered by Gothic preachers. Sometimes the bishop himself 
would preach, using an interpreter. Chrysostom also sent 
missionaries to the tribes on the Danube and to the nomads of 

For a time Chrysostom enjoyed the favour of Eudoxia, the 
empress, and he praised her devotion highly in his sermons. 
But when he attacked the court she turned against him. We 


cannot altogether blame her. Chrysostom used langxiage 
which was perfectly indefensible, forgetting that he was 
speaking of a lady and of liis queen. The people thronged his 
church the more, but the words sank deeply and bore bitter 
fruit. At length the court party and the clergy opened a 
campaign against him. The Arians, eager to recover some of 
their lost influence, joined the ranks of his enemies. He was 
tried on various pretexts, condemned, deposed, banished. 

The people would have defended their popular preacher by 
force, but Chrysostom bowed to the storm and was carried on 
board a ship bound for Bithynia. The following night there 
was an earthquake. Earthquakes were not uncommon in Con- 
stantinople, but the people believed this one a judgment on the 
city for its treatment of their favourite, and raised a riot. 
Eudoxia also was superstitious about it and begged the emperor 
to recall him. 

Chrysostom returned amid popular rejoicing, and it seemed 
as if there might be peace. He was once more on good terms 
with the empress, and praised her in his discourses. For 
the breach which followed he was responsible. A statue of 
the empress had been cast in silver and set up in the market 
place in front of the Church of St. Sophia. It was dedicated, 
as one would expect, with pomp and revelry, and the sound of 
the music and dancing was heard in the church and disturbed 
the service. Instead of exercising a Httle patience, Chrysostom 
lost his temper, and is reported to have used offensive language 
against the empress : " Herodias is once more maddening ; is 
once more dancing ; once more she demands the head of John 
on a charger". The words were conveyed to Eudoxia, and she 
was naturally incensed. 

The bishop's enemies again gathered, a council was called, 403. 
and sentence of deposition was passed. Arcadius acquiesced, 
and when Chrysostom refused to cease his ministrations the 
church was cleared by the soldiers. Arcadius then signed a 
decree of banishment, and Chrysostom was conveyed to the 
Asiatic shore. That night the cathedral, a magnificent building 


erected by Constantino the Great, was totally destroyed by 
fire. The coincidence was too striking to be overlooked. 
Chrysostom's friends were suspected and hunted down with 
merciless severity. 

Chrysostoin was conveyed to Nicsea and thence to Cucusus, 
a village in the Taurus mountains, chosen because of its incle- 
mency. The journey was distressing, but when Chrysostom 
reached Cucusus, all was well. His reputation had preceded 
him, and he was received with much kindness. Comforts were 
provided by admiring friends, many came to visit him, he had 
a voluminous correspondence, and the three years he spent 
there he declared to have been the happiest of his life. But 
this did not suit his enemies. They desired his death, and, 
angry that he should still be living a useful life, they obtained 
a rescript from the emperor transferring his place of exile to 
Pityus on the Black Sea. Eudoxia cannot be blamed for this, 
for she was dead. It would almost seem as if the empress 
protected him somewhat whilst she lived. His most bitter foes 
were probably from amongst those who dreaded lest some turn 
of the wheel of fortune might bring about his recall. 

Guards were sent to convey Chrysostom to Pityus. They 

had their instructions, and he was hurried from place to place 

on foot, even with blows. At last his strength gave way, and 

407. near Comana he was carried into a chapel, where, at the altar, 

he breathed his last. He was sixty years of age. 

Thirty-one years later, in the reign of Theodosius II., the 
remains of Chrysostom were reverently carried from Comana 
to Constantinople, and interred with pomp. 

John Chrysostom was a man of strong will, pure life and 
noble purpose. But ho was tactless and passionate. His early 
austerities ruined his health and his temper. But ho had a 
touch of humour amidst it all. A brutal official once threatened 
to tear his liver out. " I wish you could," said Chrysostom, 
" for ft has been nothing but a trouble to me for years." 

Chrysostom was the author of numerous treatises, exposi- 
tions and homilies, from which much of merit may be culled. 


What could be better than his plea for Bible study ? It is a 
mistake to imagine that the Scriptures were scarce in those 
days. Copies were numerous. " Even Britain," says Chrysos- 
tom, " abounds with the Word of Life." 

" Give yourselves," he said, " to the reading of Holy Scrip- 
ture ; not merely at church, but when you return home take 
your Bible in hand and dive into the meaning of what is 
written therein. . . . Seating yourselves, as it were, beside these 
waters, even although you may have no one at hand to inter- 
pret, yet will you by diligent study acquire great benefit. . . . 
Divine Providence ordained that the Scriptures should be 
written by publicans, fishermen, tent-makers, shepherds, goat- 
herds, that they should be intelligible to all, that the artisan, 
the poor widow, the slave might derive advantage from them. 
. . . Let no one say, ' I am fully occupied with business in court, 
or the interests of the State, or my craft ; I have a wife to 
care for, children to maintain, a household to manage ; I am a 
man of the world and it is not for me to read the Scriptures. 
The duty belongs to those who have betaken themselves to the 
mountains for that purpose.' How ! is it not forsooth because 
thou art surrounded with worldly cares that thou hast more 
need than they to read thy Bible ? " 

It was Chrysostom's practice to give out his text before- 
hand, in order that the congregation might prepare for the 
sermon b}^ Scripture study. He was eloquent and evangelical, 
and approached nearer our modern conception of what a 
preacher should be than any other of the Fathers. 

Jerome. — Eusebius Hieronymus, better known as Jerome, 340. 
was born at Stridon, near Aquileia, on the Adriatic. His 
parents were Christians and prosperous people, and he was 
educated at Rome. There he lived loosely, but when he 
reached manhood he reformed and was baptised. 

At the age of twenty-five Jerome was in Aquileia, one of a 
circle of young men devoted to asceticism and sacred stud}''. 
But the company was suddenly broken up. The reason is not 


precisely known, but it is possible that even thus early Jerome 
was showing a capacity for making enemies which followed 
him through hfe. 
373. Along with Rufinus, the bosom friend of Jerome's youth, 

but his bitter foe in riper years, Jerome travelled through 
Thrace and Asia Minor, as far as Antioch. On their travels 
they made the acquaintance of Basil, and met many monks by 
whom Jerome was inspired with a desire for the hfe of solitude. 
Jerome afterwards took up his abode in the desert of Chal- 
cis, about fifty miles east of Antioch. In this desert monks and 
hermits abounded, and here he hved for five years. But after 
the first charm had passed away Jerome was miserable. He 
studied hard and wrote diligently. But he found that a man 
did not escape from himself even in the desert. Moreover, 
even among the monks of the desert there was bitter theo- 
logical strife, and Jerome was not on the popular side. The 
monks thought him Kttle better than a heretic and persecuted 
him. They even took away his paper, so that he was reduced 

379. to writing on rags. At last he fled to Antioch. In Antioch 
he accepted ordination, only stipulating that after ordination 
he should have freedom to live as he hked. 

380. After these things Jerome went to Constantinople. There 
he made the acquaintance of Gregory Nazianzen, of whom he 
speaks with high respect. His eyes troubled him at this time, 
and he had to dictate to an amanuensis. This became habitual 
to him, though he did not entirely give up writing with his 
own hand. 

382. Jerome next went to Rome. His reputation as a scholar 

had preceded him and for a time he had influence. He was 
even looked on as a Hkely successor to Damasus, the bishop 
of Rome. He spent his time in revising the translation of the 
Scriptures and in theological controversy. Especially did he 
advocate asceticism. He was an uncompromising advocate of 
celibacy and wrote a treatise on the subject. Advocates of 
cehbacy for the most part found their views with regard to 
sexual intercourse upon that which is ilHcit and vile. Of the 


pure and saintly institution of marriage and the family life, 
tlie Creator's best eartlily gift to man, they have no experience 
and little conception. This was Jerome's case. In his youth 
he had led a sensual life and he knew little of any higher. 
Unfortunately, Jerome was now surrounded by women 
who hung upon his words, and he made converts among Ro- 
man ladies of rank. To these he was guide, pliilosopher and 
friend. But he was not a safe guide. " The letters which he 
wrote to these ladies," says Maitland, " are a fearful monument 
of the social eftects of the monastic system." 

Jerome was a dauntless man and a splendid worker. But 
there is wonderfully Uttle proof either in his life or writings 
that he had any experimental knowledge of Christianity. This 
we may at least affirm of liis youth and riper years. Perhaps 
at eventide when he had passed through much suffering, and 
was poor and apparently little esteemed, there may have been 

Jerome soon found his life in Rome unbearable. His 
fanatical aversion to marriage and the fact that he made con- 
verts to his views amongst ladies of good family raised up 
enemies and gave rise to much scandal. His style of argu- 
ment, moreover, did not make matters easier, for he was 
always supercilious and often scurrilous. Accordingly he .be- 
came very unpopular, calumny was busy with hi-^ uame, he 
was hooted in the streets, and people spoke of throwing him 
into the Tiber. 

At this period bishop Damasus died. Under ordinary cir- 
cumstances Jerome would have been elected pope, but now, 
notwithstanding his scholarship, he was impossible, and a rival 
was elected. Bitterly disappointed, but never realising how 
much he had himself to blame for his failure, Jerome left Rome 
and determined to return to a life of solitude. 

Amongst Jerome's admirers the most important was Paula, a 
noble and devout widow. Paula resolved to share her teacher's 
exile, and with other ladies in her company set out on the pil- 
grimage. After visiting many sacred places in Palestine they 
VOL. II. 19 


settled at Bethelehem, then much frequented by pilgrims. 
Here, by degrees, they built a monastery, three convcints, a 
church and a hospice. 

In Bethlehem Jerome spent the remaining thirty-four years 
of his life. Adopting as his personal abode one of the rock- 
hewn chambers which are still to be seen there, he surrounded 
himself with his books and toiled unceasingly. By earnest 
application he had become a master of Hebrew, Greek and 
Latin. At Rome he had corrected the Latin version of the 
Gospels ; he now corrected the Latin version of the Old Testa- 

Afterwards Jerome undertook a work of high importance, 
a complete retranslation of the Scriptures. The Old Testament 
was translated from the Hebrew, the New Testament from the 
best Greek manuscripts that could be found. Upon this work 
Jerome bestowed infinite pains, consulting the best available 
authorities, and travelling through Palestine to identify sacred 
places. The Vulgate is in substance the result of Jerome's 
work, the edition of the Scriptures recognised by the Roman 
Catholic Church, and appearing in English as the Douay 

Jerome's earnest work did not prevent him from carrying 
on (^Dntroversy in quite the old spirit. A discussion with his 
friend Rv^^^^\>s about the views of Origen led to permanent 
estrangement. Augustine, deeply grieved to see good men 
quarreling, entreated Jerome not to scatter such hard words 
abroad, but his pleading was in vain. 

With Augustine also Jerome had a controversy, but on this 
occasion he had a legitimate grievance, for Augustine wrote 
letters attacking him and published them, although Jerome 
had never seen them, and did not see some of them for years 

From Bethlehem Jerome also attacked Jovinian, a monk 
who dared to write a book upon what we would now term 
Protestant lines. He controverted the perpetual virginity of 
Mary, which was now becoming an article of faith in the 


Church ; denied the superior merits of celibacy, and maintained 
that the ordinary Christian hfe was or ought to be as holy as 
the monastic. Jovinian's common sense was regarded as gross 
impiety, and all who dared to think with him were excom- 

Ambrose spoke of Jovinian's statement that there was no 
difference of merit between the married and unmarried as " a 
savage howling of ferocious wolves scaring the flock ", Jerome 
also took up the cudgels and called Jovinian's views " the 
hissing of the old serpent by which the dragon expelled man 
from Paradise ". It never apparently occurred to either Am- 
brose or Jerome that by their vulgar abuse they were proving 
Jovinian's contention. Jerome's language shocked even those 
who were in sympathy with liis views, and they begged him not 
to publish his book, but he persisted. 

Paula died at the age of fifty-six. Concerning her deep 404. 
sincerity and devoutness there can be no controversy. She 
shortened her life by useless austerity, and beggared herself 
by indiscriminate almsgiving. But she was a good and gracious 
woman. She loved the Scriptures and stored them in her 
memory. Her self-denying faith, her care for the poor, her 
childlike trust, were genuine marks of a true follower of Jesus 
Christ. The words wliich Jerome wrote in her memory are 
amongst his best. 

" Farewell, O Paula, and help by thy praj^'ers the old age of 
him who bears thee a religious reverence. Thy faith and works 
have joined thee to Christ, and being now present with Him, 
thou wilt the more easily obtain what thou desirest. ... We 
do not weep because we have lost her ; we thank God that we 
once possessed her. What do I say ? We possess her still, for 
the elect who ascend to God still remain in the family of those 
who love them." 

At this time the Roman Empire was in evil case. The 
northern nations had broken down the barriers, and were 
pouring in like a flood. The Isaurians laid waste Northern 
Palestine, and for a time the colony at Bethlehem seemed in 


such peril that all assembled on the shore ready to set sail. 
Then came news that the invaders were passing on the north 
of Lebanon. 

410. At last Rome herself was captured by Alaric the Goth. 

Amongst the inhabitants who fled some found their way 
even to Bethlehem. Jerome was amazed at the course of 

" The world crumbles, our head knows not how to bow 
down. Tliat which is born must perish, that which has grown 
must wither. There is no created work which rust or age 
does not consume ; — but Eome ! who could have believed that 
raised by her victories above the universe, she would one day 
fall, and become for her people at once a mother and a tomb." 

416. Jerome's later years were stormy like the rest. The 

Pelagian controversy raged, and he flung himself into it with 
ardour. A dialogue published against the Pelagians so roused 
the ire of the monks of Jerusalem, who were mostly Pelagians, 
that they took up arms, attacked the colony at Bethlehem, and 
destroyed some of the buildings. 

419. Jerome's health was never robust, yet he lived to be an old 

man. He was very feeble before he died, and used to raise 
Inmself in his bed by the aid of a cord fixed to the ceiHng, the 
plan so common still in our hospitals. The date of his birth is 
disputed, and his age is therefore uncertain. It is variously 
reckoned from seventy-four to eighty-nine. 

Jerome died in great poverty, but continued his Biblical 
work to the last. It is pleasant to know that in his last days 
Paula, a grandchild of his devoted disciple, ministered to him. 

Opinions will differ with regard to the character of Jerome 
and the value of his personal influence. But concerning his 
extrordinary diligence, his tenacity of purpose, and the high 
value of liis labours there can be no difference of opinion. Nor 
should we forget the courage with which Jerome persisted in 
his work of trauslation in the face of opposition. The Sep- 
tuagint was looked on as itself inspired, and in daring to 
correct it Jerome was believed to be shaking the foundations 


of the Christian faith* Even Augustine tried to turn liim 
from his purpose. 

During the Ufetime of Jerome his version of the Scriptures 
was coldly received, but by the seventh century it had won its 
way and was superseding the older versions. At last in 1546 
the Council of Trent decreed that the Vulgate edition should 
be held for authentic in public lectures, disputations, sermons 
and expositions, and that none should dare to refuse it. 



354. Augustine was an African, born at That^aste in Numidia. 
His father, Patricias, was a pagan ; his mother, Monica, a 

Having received such education as the schools of Thagaste 
could give, Augustine was sent to the university of Carthage. 
He was then seventeen years of age. His father had died and 
his mother was not rich, but she was enabled by the generosity 
of friends to complete her son's education. 

Augustine's university career was unsatisfactory. He 
studied with some industry, and his natural genius kept him 
well in the front, but he was dissolute. He kept a mistress, 
and had an illegitimate son whom he named Deodato. Monica 
had the sorrow of seeing her son leaving the university an 
unbeliever in Christianity and apparently an unprincipled man. 
But she prayed earnestly for him, and in due time her prayers 
were answered. 

383. After teaching rhetoric in Carthage for a time, Augustine 

resolved to go to Rome. Monica was greatly against this, and 

Augustine went surreptitiously. Monica was frantic with 

grief, not knowing that in this way God was reall}^ S'iving her 

her heart's desire. 

From Rome Augustine went to Milan. Ambrose was bishop 

there, and the young rhetorician had an introduction to him. 

The bishop received him kindly, and he attended his church 

services. He did this to begin with out of respect for the man 

and admiration for the orator, but gradually he fell under the 

influence of his preaching and changed his attitude towards 

Christianity. Others also helped him, and at last he saw the 



light. His mother was now with liim in Milan and could re- 
joice in answered prayer. 

After his baptism Augustine proceeded with his mother to 387. 
Rome, intending to return home to Africa. But at Ostia, 
when they were resting in order that Monica might gain 
strength for the voyage, she died. She was a noble-minded 
and altogether lovely woman to whom her son owed every- 

After Monica's death Augustine stayed a year in Rome. 388. 
Thence he went to Africa, and dwelt at Thagastc, his native 
town, in a small religious community of like-minded men. 

Three years later having gone to Hippo, a city in Algeria 391. 
now called Bona, he was ordained by Bishop Valerius, after 
which he removed to that city and established his monastery 

When Valerius died Augustine was elected as his successor. 396. 
He was popular, and the episcopal residence became a school of 
theology and a monastery combined. The clergy lived in 
celibacy and poverty but without display of asceticism. 

Augustine's views were of the high Catholic order. Like 
many good men he did not sufficiently differentiate between 
the community of believers which Christ calls his Church, and 
the visible human organisation which men call the Church. 
This organisation was to him an ark outside of which there 
was no salvation. Sincerely believing this he regarded perse- 
cution as quite admissible. Surely it was better to drive men 
into the ark by blows than to leave them outside to drown. 
So warped was his judgment in this matter, that he claimed 
as Scriptural warrant for oppression our Saviour's words in the 
parable " compel them to come in ". 

The views held by Augustine brought him quickly into 
conflict with the Donatists, a sect very numerous in Northern 
Africa. They had separated from the Church on the ground 
of discipline. They believed that the existence of a Church 
depended upon the holiness of its members, and objected to an 
organisation which held both believers and unbelievers within 


its pale. Holiness was above everything else, and unless a 
Church were holy it was no Church at all, no matter how cor- 
rectly its succession from the Apostles might be traced. 

Though views much like those of the Donatists will always 
be held wherever Christianity exists, the sect as such was 
largely confined to the North African province where the 
Donatists were as numerous as the Catholics. The African 
Church was in fact divided into two rival communities, and 
Augustine confounding the true Church of Christ with the 
organisation to which he belonged determined to bring the 
Donatists back to the fold. 

At first Augustine sought to influence the Donatists by 
argument. He declared himself eager to confer, but as he 
evidently looked upon himself as the sole possessor of truth, 
and upon the Donatists as wandering sheep, conferences were 
in vain. 

When Augustine found that he could not win the Donatists 
to reunion by the magic of his arguments, he determined to 
bring them back by force, and encouraged the government to 
persecute them. Their worship was forbidden, they were 
ordered to surrender their churches, their clergy were com- 
manded to return to the one true Church. The persecuted 
Christians appealed to the emperor Honorius in vain. He 
412. even issued a decree enacting penalties yet more severe. The 
Donatists were heavily fined, their property was confiscated, 
they were scourged and banished. Many yielded, some pre- 
ferred to endure the loss of all things. Three hundred bishops, 
and thousands of inferior clergy were driven into exile. 

The persecution of the Donatists was no whit less bitter 
than the Huguenot persecution of later date. And what was 
the result ? The triumph, doubtless, of the Catholic Church ? 
No ; but the destruction of Christianity in North Africa. 
This Christianity, which in the days of Augustine had such q, 
hold on Africa that thousands of clergy could be driven out of 
one section of the Church, where is it to-day ? It is repre- 
sented by a handful of foreign missionaries surrounded by tlie 


hardest and most uncompromising hostility to Christianity 
that the world can show. For this lamentable result Augus- 
tine must take a large share of blame. Had the bishop of 
Hippo refrained from beating his fellow-servants, and devoted 
his extraordinary powers to the evangelisation of Africa, it 
might not have become the dark continent which it has been 
from tliat day to tliis. It is sad to find so good a man as 
Augustine advocating coercion in religious matters and de- 
fending his position by sophistry. It is the more sad to know 
that his sanction of persecution became a precedent of great 
authority in the Catholic Church, and led to a vast amount of 
spiritual despotism and intolerance. Even the inquisition may 
be said to have been the legitimate result of Augustinian 

Whilst the Donatist controversy was in progress Augustine 
threw himself also into the Pelagian. The doctrines of Pe- 
lagius are as old as the Church, and will remain while there 
is a Church, but they came prominently into notice at this 

Pelagius was a Briton, perhaps a Welshman from Bangor 
university. The name has the same significance as Morgan, 

At the end of the fourth century Pelagius went to Rome, 
and was greatly shocked at the condition of tlie Christian 
Church in that city, and at the inconsistent lives which pro- 
fessing Christians, whether lay or clerical, were leading. Per- 
ceiving that this arose, to some extent at least, from the idea 
many had that if they were connected by baptism with the 
Christian Church they were secure, he took up the attitude of 
the Apostle James, and emphasised the necessity there was for 
manifesting faith by the performance of works. Pelagius also 
insisted on the freedom of man's will as a primary factor in 
the problem. He had many followers, among whom Caelestius, 
a native of Ireland, was the most prominent. 

After the sack of Rome by Alaric, Pelagius went to Pales- 410. 
tine and Ctelestius to Carthage. Both men were tried for 


heresy. There was httle in the charges formulated against 
them that would shock modern theologians, but the fight 
spread and waxed fierce, until it shook the Western Church, 
There were other issues, but the fundamental question was 
between Free Will and Predestination. Pelagius emphasised 
man's side of the redemptive scheme, Augustine and those 
who were with him emphasised God's side. Both went to 
extremes, and were partly right and partly wrong. The Pe- 
lagians were m danger of losing sight of the absolute need for 
the regenerating influence of the Holy Spirit, the others were 
fooHsh enough to imagine that they could reduce the eternal 
decrees of God to a formula. 

Referring to Augustine's teaching in this matter, Canon 
Mozley has well said : — 

" If revelation as a whole does not speak explicitly, revela- 
tion did not intend to do so ; and to impose a definite truth 
upon it when it designedly stops sliort of one, is as real an 
error of interpretation as to deny a truth which it expresses ". 

The emperor Honorius at length interposed in the argu- 
ment, declared the Pelagians to be heretics, and subjected 
them to pains and penalties in the usual way. Pelagius, 
Cailestius and their adherents were banished. 
429. The last days of Augustine's life were stormy enough. 

The Northern tribes had devastated the empire, and the 
Vandals had crossed from Spain and were overrunning Nor- 
thern Africa. The CathoHcs now experienced some of the 
miseries which they had so wantonly inflicted on their 
brethren. Many refugees came to Hippo, where Augustine 
dwelt, and his house was open to all. Then Hippo itself was 
besieged. In the third month of the siege he was seized with 
fever, and after a short illness he died, being then seventy-six 
years of age. 

Augustine was the last bishop of Hippo, and with him set 
the sun of the African Church. At the time of the Vandal 
conquest there were in the province 500 Catholic bishops ; 
thirty years after only three remained. Had the Cliurch 


leaders of Augustine's time shown greater wisdom, and been 
content to preach the Gospel instead of embarking in a piti- 
less crusade against the Puritan section of their Church, the 
result might have been very different. The Vandals were not 
averse to Christianity, They carried with them and regarded 
with superstitious awe the Bible, which had been translated 
into the Gothic tongue by Ulfilas, their great apostle. But 
the best Christians had been driven out of Africa, and those 
who remained melted away in the hour of trial. 

Augustine was a voluminous writer and had a clear and 
acute intellect. The influence of his writings was immense and 
lasting, and many good men have greatly admired liim. Luther 
declared liimself deeply indebted to him ; Calvin called him 
the best of the Fathers. Concerning the importance of Augus- 
tine's writings as a formative influence in the Catholic Church 
there can be no question. Whether we think that tliis mighty 
influence was for good or evil \viU depend upon our point of 
view. Those who are inclined towards high CathoUc doctrine, 
who beHeve in the exaltation of the authority of the visible 
Church, the concentration of that authority in the Roman See, 
the doctrine of Purgatory, with its corollary of prayer for the 
dead, and who hold strong views with regard to the efficacy of 
the Sacraments, will find much to gratify them in the writings 
of Augustine, Strangely enough also the hyper-Calvinist will 
find in Augustine aft important ally. But those of a simpler 
turn of mind, who beHeve that " the end of the commandment 
is love out of a pure heart," wiU have more difficulty in arriving 
at a favourable verdict. For ourselves we think that Augustine 
as a writer has had wide influence. But he was not a gi'eat 
man and he was not a saint. 



395. When Theodosius died, leaving Honorius, a child of eleven, 
nominal ruler of the West, and Arcadius, eighteen years of 
age, ruler of the East, he had two friends on whom he could 
imphcitly rely, Ambrose, bishop of Milan, and Stilicho, his 
principal minister of State. To these he left the guardianship 
of his sons. Ambrose died within two years, but Stilicho lived, 
and was faithful to his trust. 

Probably Theodosius desired that Stilicho should have a 
general guardianship over both princes, but this was not pos- 
sible. He was prefect of the West, and could control Honorius, 
but Rufinus, another important minister, was prefect of the 
East, and Arcadius was under his control. The West gladly 
accepted Stihcho's regency, but he was viewed with suspicion 
and animosity at Constantinople. 

StiHcho was a Vandal, son of a chieftain who had been in 
the service of Valens. He had early attracted the attention of 
Theodosius, both by reason of his capacity and his princely 
bearing, and he had been permitted to marry Serena, niece of 
the emperor. His position at the court of Honorius continued 
extremely honourable, Honorius, whilst still a boy, married 
his daughter Maria, and when Maria died he married Ther- 
mantia, her sister. 

Whilst Theodosius was aHve Stilicho became commander- 
in-chief, and at his death he commanded the united forces of 
the empire, both the Eastern and Western armies, of which the 
former was largely Gothic, the latter German and Frank. 
When the emperor died and the empire fell into two parts 

Stilicho remained general of the united forces. 



When Theodosius marched against Eugenius, his Gothic 
auxiharies were commanded by Alaric, a Christian, and a Visi- 
gothic cliieftain of great distinction. After the emperor's 
death Stilicho, the Vandal, and Alaric, the Goth, were the most 
powerful men in the empire. 

When Theodosius had passed away and the empire fell into 
the hands of young and, as it happened, unpopular princes, the 
Goths became restless. They wished no ill to the empire, but 
they thought that they had fought Rome's battles long enough 
and that it was time they looked after their own affairs. 
Accordingly they elected Alaric as king, and he set about 
endeavouring to further the interests of liis people. 

Alaric stationed himself wath his followers in the mountains 
of Illyricum, and from tliis point of vantage invaded Mace- 
donia and threatened Greece. Arcadius could do nothing 
against liim, for the forces of the Eastern Empire were in the 
West under Stilicho. Arcadius therefore had to request StiHcho 
either to come to liis defence or to return the Eastern troops, 
and StiHcho hastened eastward with his united army. But 
when he had almost reached Thessalonica and would have given 
Alaric battle, the court at Constantinople, fearing StiKcho more 
than they feared Alaric, ordered him to desist from further 
advance, to withdraw with the legions of Honorius and to 
send the Eastern section of the army to Constantinople. 
Stilicho obeyed, and^ the Eastern army marched away under 
their general, Gainas, a Goth. But Gainas was a great friend 
of StiHcho, and when the troops reached Constantinople they 
murdered Rufinus, the chief minister of Arcadius, whom they 
blamed for the withdrawal. 

The foUowing year Alaric invaded Southern Greece and 396. 
ravaged the country. With Athens he dealt gently, but Corinth, 
Argos and Sparta fell before liim. StiHcho equipped a fleet and 
carried the army of the Western Empire across to Corinth. 
There he encountered Alaric, and skilfuUy drove liim back into 
the mountains about Elis. But when he seemed to have lum 
at his mercy Alaric escaped across the Gulf into Epirus. Un- 


doubtedly Alaric and he were in negotiation. Stilicho re- 
spected the Gothic king, and beheved that he might some 
day in the future serve the empire as he had served it in the 
past. Alaric also had a high regard for StiHcho, though he 
felt bound to place the interests of his own people first. 

Alaric wanted certain provinces set apart for his people, 
and wished also to receive a grant of money for them from 
the empire. If he could obtain these favours he would be the 
empire's faithful ally. Stilicho, on the other hand, wished to 
maintain the integrity of the Western Empire, to increase its 
area if possible, and to infuse new blood into it by absorbing 
barbarians. Both Stilicho and Alaric were statesmen. 

As Arcadius found that he could not check the devastations 
of Alaric he came to terms with him, entering into an agree- 
ment by wliich Alaric was made commander of the forces in 
lUyricum. This gave liim a splendid vantage ground. It was 
actually as a Roman officer that Alaric prepared his troops for 
the campaigns which ended in the fall of Rome. 

Rome was now of little consequence politically. Except 
in a sentimental sense it was no longer the capital. Diocletian 
had been the first to realise that the world could no longer be 
ruled from an Italian city. He had parceled out the empire 
amongst four persons, of whom not one dwelt in Rome. 
Shortly after that the building of Constantinople had practi- 
cally assured the permanent division of the empire. The chief 
of the State was no longer necessarily even an Italian. Dal- 
matia, Illyria, Pannonia, Moesia, Spain, Phoenicia and other 
provinces had supplied their quota to the imperial throne. 
Few of the later emperors had any connection with the 
ancient capital, some had never seen it. 

Honorius visited Rome sometimes, but was mostly at 
Milan, and in 402 he took up his residence permanently at 
Ravenna. Whilst he was at Milan the empire was threatened 
on two sides by barbarians. Alaric descended into Venetia 
from the East, and Radagasius, an Ostrogoth, acting probably 
in concert, invaded Italy from the North. 


The news of this double invasion created a panic in Italy. 
Honorius and the Italian nobles around him proposed to fly to 
Gaul. But Stihcho's heart did not fail him. Alaric was en- 
gaged reducing the fortresses of Venetia, and this gave Stilicho 410. 
a breatliing space. Dealing witli Radagasius first he went north- 
ward to Rsetia, gathered forces, and in a winter campaign 
drove the invaders across the border. Having then reinforced 
his army by enlisting friendly tribes and drawing in legions 
from the frontiers he was ready to deal wath Alaric. 

The rival forces met at Pollentia, about twenty miles from 402. 
Turin. Alaric was taken at a disadvantage, and though the 
battle was not decisive the Gotlis were discouraged and wilhng 
to negotiate. Stilicho was wise enough to offer easy terms, 
and a treaty was entered into. The Goths then retired in 
leisurely fashion, nor did Alaric again invade Italy until 
Stihcho was dead. 

Honorius and Stilicho celebrated a triumph at Rome for 404. 
tliis somewhat shadowy victory over the Goths. The occasion 
is noteworthy, because tradition has it that an Eastern monk 
named Telemachus interfered between the combatants at the 
gladiatorial games. It is said that he was slain but that the 
gladiatorial spectacles ceased. Such an incident may well 
have happened and may have had its effect, but there were 
glacUatorial games some years after tliis. 

Next year Radagasius again invaded Italy. His forces went 405. 
in difterent directions. One large body marched towards Rome, 
but Stilicho succeeded in hemming them in amongst the moun- 
tains near Florence. There they were starved into surrender. 
Many were sold into slavery. Radagasius was put to death. 
Another section of the invading force pressed on through Gaul, 
crossed the Pyrenees and entered Spain. 

It seemed almost as if Alaric and Radagasius had failed in 
their attempts upon Italy. But the indirect effect of the in- 
vasions was great. In order that he might successfully en- 
counter them Stilicho had denuded the Rhine of troops and 
had even brought a legion from Britain. The pressure of the 


tribes upon the Rhine provinces was always great, and now 
the Vandals, Sueves and Alans began to pour into Gaul, a 
province which was never again effectively controlled by the 

In Britain also there was a serious change. The soldiers 
407. there, perceiving how weak Honorius was, mutinied and elected 
one of their number named Constantine to the purple. Con- 
stantine crossed with most of the troops into Gaul, where he 
409. was well received. In a short time he withdrew aU the Roman 
troops from Britain. Nine years later a contingent was sent 
across at the earnest entreaty of the inhabitants, but they 
only stayed for a brief space. Thus Britain fell entirely from 
Rome, and Gaul and Spain ceased to be any source of strength. 

Though these results seemed to flow from the invasions of 
Alaric and Radagasius, they were really inevitable. The West- 
ern Empire was played out. Italy could now barely defend 
herself. Not that the empire dissolved at once. At the death 
of Honorius in 423 only Britain had formally broken loose. 
But in many other places the emperor's authority was only 
nominal. Throughout Gaul and Spain the tribes were setthng 
freely. They had come to stay. 

It would be a mistake to imagine that the tribes now pour- 
ing into the empire wished it harm. It is scarcely possible for 
us to realise the position which Rome occupied in the minds 
of men at this time. It had lasted for a thousand years, it 
embraced the civilised world, it was a sort of terrestrial pro- 

" When Rome, the head of the world, shaU have fallen," 
writes I^actantius, " who can doubt that the end is come of 
human things ; aye, of the earth itself. She, she alone is the 
State by which all things are upheld even until now." 

The barbarians did not desire to destroy Rome. Many of 
them were already Roman citizens, and the others wished to 
be. The movements which in their result disintegrated the 
empire were colonising movements caused by the land hunger 
of the tribes and the ambition of their leaders. The peoples 


knew that the lands of the empire were only half occupied, 
their kinsfolk were already prospering in the empire ; why 
should not they ? 

In earlier days the Romans thought it good policy to kill 
or drive back the immigrants. When they found that they 
were not strong enough to do tliis, they thought it a clever 
thing to foment quarrels between the tribes in order that 
they might slay each other. This way of dealing with immi- 
gration was no longer possible. The native population had 
decayed in numbers, wealth and spirit. There were not enough 
natives to man the ramparts. It was no more possible for the 
Roman in the fifth century to say " Stand back " to the in- 
vading tribes than it would be in the twentieth for the native- 
born American to order back the wave of immigration which 
sweeps over his country and will sweep over it until it is 
adequately peopled. 

We have seen how Alaric. after crossing swords with 
Stilicho at Pollentia, returned to Illyricum, keeping the peace 
for the moment but ready for anything that might occur. He 
corresponded with Stilicho, who would gladly have utilised him 
in an attempt to detach Illyricum from the dominions of Arca- 
dius and to add it to those of Honorius. But other matters 
claimed Stilicho's attention, and he was never able to carry out 
his plans. In connection with these plans Alaric performed 
certain services for which he claimed pajmient. The emperor 
and Senate met at Rome to discuss the claim and it was paid, 408. 
though grudgingly. The payments to Alaric, the loss of Gaul, 
and the revolt in Britain made Stilicho unpopular. He was a 
Vandal, and the Roman party had many grievances against 
him. The power had passed from their hands, and they saw 
Goth and Vandal everywhere usurping the offices which they 
formerly monopolised. Accordingly they banded themselves 
into a conspiracy to destroy Stilicho. 

At this juncture Arcadius died leaving one son, Theodosius, 

a mere child. His wife Eudoxia, whom we have already had 

occasion to mention in connection with the life of Chrysostom 
VOL. II. 20 


had died in 404. Honorius proposed to go to Constantinople 
to assume guardianship of his nephew, but Stilicho determined 
to go instead. This was a mistake. No sooner had he de- 
parted than his enemies declared to Honorius that he meant 
to put his own son Eueherius upon the Eastern throne. Hono- 
rius believed it and issued the warrant for his execution, and 
Stilicho was overtaken at Ravenna and slain. 

The death of Stilicho gave the Roman party a momentary 
triumph. They lost their heads in their exultation and mas- 
sacred his friends. They went farther, and with cowardly 
spite massacred the wives and children of such barbarian 
auxiliaries as were with the army. As a result 80,000 auxili- 
aries left the Roman standards, joined Alaric and cried out 
for vengeance. 

Alaric knew that in Stilicho he had lost a good friend and a 
gallant enemy. But he did not desire war, and he offered to 
serve Honorius on fair terms. Accordingly he sent messen- 
gers with proposals, but Honorius, now back in Ravenna and 
safe behind its fortifications, refused to treat. 

Seeing that negotiation was useless, Alaric crossed the 
Julian Alps once more and descended into the plain. Aquileia 
and Ravenna he passed by, determined to waste no strength 
upon smaller sieges. Crossing the Po and marching with great 
rapidity he was soon in front of Rome. 

The citizens of Rome, panic-stricken, could think of nothing 
better to do than to murder Serena, the widow of Stilicho, and 
Eueherius his son. 

Alaric attempted no assault, he merely blockaded the city 
so that provisions could not enter. The result was not long 
doubtful. For a brief space the citizens hoped that Honorius 
would help them, but when no help came and famine and 
pestilence pressed heavily they begged for terms. 

When the Roman ambassadors in their usual fasliion began 
to use swelling words Alaric laughed at them. They were still 
numerous, they said, and prepared for war. " Tliick grass is 
easier to mow than thin," he replied. When he demanded all 


their gold, all their silver, all their treasure as the price of 
peace, they cried in horror, ''What shall we have left?" 
" Saivalos," he replied, " your souls." At length, however, he 
accepted easier terms, and the first siege of Rome was over. 

After the settlement Alaric did not return to Illyricum for 
he was needed to keep down insurrection in Italy. After the 
siege thousands of slaves fled from Rome and wandered about 
in armed bands pillaging the country. Alaric repressed these 
\\'ith a strong hand. The Romans seeing how useful he might 
be as a protector would fain have made treaty with him. 
Alaric was wilhng, but Honorius refused to sanction such a 

When Alaric found that no proposals of his, however 
moderate, were hstened to by Honorius, and that he turned a 
deaf ear to the appeals of the citizens of Rome themselves, he 
determined to teach him a lesson, and sat down to besiege 
Rome a second time. But the Romans dreaded another block- 
ade and proposed to Alaric that Honorius should be left out of 
their calculations and another emperor appointed in Rome. 
Alaric agreed, and Attains, prefect of Rome, became emperor, 
\vith Alaric as his commander-in-chief. But the new arrange- 
ment did not last. Attains was as foolish in his way as Hono- 
rius, and at last Alaric thru.'st liim aside. Once more he 
renewed liis overtures to Honorius, and when the conferences 
failed he marched southward in grim earnest to the sack of 

Only meagre details remain to us of tliis siege. There was 4io. 
apparently no blockade, and no serious effort to defend the 
city. Towards the end of August the Goths arrived, and the 
city fell almost at once. They broke in by the Salarian Gate 
which stood near the Pincian Hill. Alaric gave his soldiers 
permission to spoil the city but to do no more. Life was to be 
spared, churches were not to be injured, the right of asylum 
was to be respected. It would be inconceivable that a city 
like Rome should be captured and looted without mischief 
of other sorts being done. The palace of Sallust, which 


stood near the Salarian Gate, was burned, and no doubt among 
so many barbarians there were some who defied Alaric's in- 
structions and were guilty of brutahty. Nevertheless, it has 
been conjectured that Rome suffered less from the barbarians 
in 410 than Paris did from the Commune in 1871. 

The fall of Rome was a world-wide object lesson and its 
moral effect was tremendous. We have in a former chapter 
quoted the words of Jerome with regard to the catastrophe. 
The story of the three sieges, the capture and the sack reached 
him at the same moment in his cell at Bethlehem and created 
a profound impression. Augustine was scarcely less impressed. 
There was an outcry against Christianity. Men declared that 
Rome had fallen because the people had forsaken the gods of 
their fathers. To refute this theory Augustine was impelled 
to write the most important of his treatises, The City of God. 

The Goths only tarried for a few days in Rome. Then with 
vast spoil and many captives they wended their way south- 
ward through Campania into Calabria. There they gathered 
a fleet intending to cross to Sicily and thence to Africa, pressed 
probably by want of supplies of corn. But when a portion of 
the army had embarked a storm arose and there was great 
damage and loss of life. This delayed matters, and whilst the 
army still lingered near Reggio, Alaric died. 

If the career of the great Goth had been striking his burial 
was not less so. Fearing lest Italian hands might desecrate 
the tomb of their hero, the soldiers, with much pains, diverted 
the river Busento^from its channel. In the bed of the river 
thus dried up they dug a deep grave, and in it, wrapped in rich 
spoils of Rome, the body of the king was laid. Then they filled 
the grave, broke down the barrier, and the river rushed over 
the sepulchre of their king. 

One may not perhaps speak of Alaric as a great changer 
of history. But he stood on guard, a noble and heroic figure, 
whilst history changed. 



In a former chapter we saw how Maximus, wlio was Roman 3S3. 
governor in Britain, was proclaimed emperor by the soldiers. 
Had he been content to remain in Britain, and govern the 
island properly, it would have mattered httle what name he 
went by. But not content with the dominion which he might 
so easily have retained he must needs govern the empire. Ac- 
cordingly he crossed to Gaul, and when he had obtained posses- 
sion of it seized Italy. Then came the inevitable reverse and 
he was slain. But the soldiers whom he had brought from 
Britain did not return and the garrison was greatly weakened. 

We have also seen how some years after this the soldiers 407. 
who remained in the island proclaimed one of their number 
named Constantine emperor. Had he only remained where he 
was the election might have been a good tiling both for Britain 
and for the empire ; but he also must seek wider dominions, 
so he crossed the channel bringing most of the remaining 
troops with liim. There were now few soldiers left in the 
island and two years later Constantine withdrew these also. 
Afterwards when the inhabitants, sorely pressed by the Cale- 
donians, appealed to Honorius for help, he gave them to under- 
stand that the empire had enough to do to ward off the attacks 
of barbarians nearer home, and that they must henceforth pro- 
vide for their own defence. Thus Britain ceased to form part 
of the Roman Empire. 

Constantine proved a man of capacity, and his usurpation 

met wnth a measure of success. He crossed to Gaul, and was 

well received by the legions there. He also checked for a time 

the inrush of tribes over the Rhine frontier. Constantine sent 



his son Constans into Spain and the young man was successful 
there and sent back to his father two important Spanish leaders 
as prisoners of war. Constantine cruelly slew them. In so 
doing he signed his own death warrant, for they were cousins 
of Honorius, whose father Theodosius was a Spaniard, and 
Honorius nursed his revenge. 

Having established his court at Aries, Constantine wrote 
to Honorius, asking to be recognised as joint emperor, and 
Honorius, sore pressed at this time by Alaric, agreed, and sent 
him the purple. But the new emperor (^d not long enjoy his 
distinction. Gerontius, a British lieutenant of Constantine, 
mutinied in Spain, drove Constans out, and followed him into 
Gaul. He captured Vienne, slew Constans and besieged 
Constantine in Aries. 

Seeing that the two usurpers were destroying each other, 
Honorius sent an army under his general Constantius to win 
back the Gauls. Constantine was now menaced by two armies. 
But the soldiers of Gerontius solved one part of the difficulty 
by deserting their leader and joining the imperial army. 
Gerontius fled to Spain, and died there by his own hand after 
fighting Hke a hero. 

Aries held out for some months, but Constantine at last 
perceived that all was over and surrendered. He was sent as 
a prisoner to Ravenna, but when thirty miles from the city 
was executed by orders from Honorius. 

On the death of Alaric the Goths, who were then in the most 
southern part of the peninsula, elected Adolphus, his wife's 
brother, as king. There was at that time in the Gothic camp 
a maiden hostage, Placidia, daughter of Theodosius by his second 
wife Galla, and therefore younger sister of the emperor 
Honorius. Adolphus fell in love with Placidia, and she with 
liim, but Honorius refused consent to their marriage for four 
412. The relations between Adolphus and Placi(iia made the 

former anxious to be on friendly terms with Honorius, and he 
drew his followers slowly northward, out of Italy, across the 


Alps and into Gaul. Two years after the sack of Rome the 
Visigothic army of Alarie had left Italy never again to re- 
turn. Perhaps Gaul seemed a richer prize than Italy, perhaps 
Adolphus hoped thus to concihate Honorius and win his bride. 

At length Honorius gave his consent to the union and the 414. 
marriage was solemnised at Narbonne with great splendour. 
Unluippily the wedded life was very brief. A son was born 
and named Theodosius after liis maternal grandfather. But 
he died after a few months. His parents grieved greatly over 
him, and he was buried in a silver coffin at Barcelona, for 
during these months the Visigcjths had crossed the Pyrenees, 
and they were now in Spain. Unfortunately worse was to 
foUow. Shortly after_,^Ld£dphus was assassinated by one of 
liis own Gothic servants apparently in revenge. 

Adolphus was succeeded by one Siuo^eric, who was privy to 
the assassination, but when lie had reigned for seven days he 
was himself slain, and Walia, a much better man, was elected 
king of the Goths. 

In accordance wnth the dying wishes of Adolphus, Placidia 
was now restored to her brother Honorius, by whom she was 
received with regal pomp. After a time she married as her 
second husband Constantius, the general already mentioned, 
a rough but honourable man. They had two children, the 
elder a daughter, Honoria, the younger a son, who on the 
death of his uncle Honorius succeeded to the throne as 
Valentinian III. 

After the Goths had left Italy Honorius helped the people 
to repair some of their ravages. The portions of Rome which 
had been destroyed were rebuilt, and in certain provinces the 
tribute was lightened for a time. The provinces thus favoured 
were Picenura, Tuscany, Campania, Samnium, Apulia, Calabria, 
Bruttium and Lucania. The Hst is interesting, because it 
shows the path of the invasion. Evidently the greater part 
of Italy had been traversed by the Gothic army. 

Walia began liis reign by organising an expechtion into 
Africa, probably in search of corn. He proposed to cross at 


Gibraltar, but his ships were shattered by a storm and he 
abandoned the idea. He then carried the Visigothic arms over 
Spain, warring with the Sueves, Vandals and Alans who had 
preceded him. His services to the empire were recognised, 
419. and the emperor granted to the Visigoths a permanent home 
in South-western Gaul. Thus the Visigoths who could find 
no home in Illyricum or in Italy became established in a 
spacious province wliich lay on both sides of the Pyrenees, 
extending from the Loire to the Straits of Gibraltar. The 
capital of the province was Tolosa. 

During the last years of Honorius the Burgundians ob- 
tained the supremacy in Eastern Gaul, the Franks in the 
North. The Western Empire was now quite broken up. The 
Franks held the North of France from the Rliine to the 
Atlantic, with Paris, Orleans, Cologne as their important cities. 
South of the Franks eastward dwelt the Burgundians wdth the 
important city of Geneva. South-west dwelt the Goths, stretch- 
ing across the Pyrenees and battling with the Vandals and the 
Alans for Spain. The Suevi were in the North-west corner of 
the peninsula, the Alans in Portugal, the Vandals in Andalusia. 

The Western Empire was now divided up amongst the 
tribes, but, as we have explained, these were not necessarily 
hostile to the empire. They rather viewed it with veneration 
as something without which the world could scarcely hang to- 
gether. They were willing to perform military service for the 
emperor and to recognise him as overlord. Their great men 
aspired to lead the imperial armies, and we shall find that they 
were soon called upon to take a leading part in saving the 
empire from the Huns. 

It should be carefully remembered that the barbarians, as 
we must call them for want of a better name, were men in 
whom the sense of justice was strongly developed. They did 
not always seize the land which they coveted with the strong 
hand and eject the owners by force and without compensation. 
Whenever possible they compensated them, and held them- 
selves bound to them by the ties of hospitality. The tribes 


whose very names are synonyms for barbarism, were not the 
uncouth beings we often imagine them to have been. They 
were for all practical purposes (jf the same breed as the Angles 
and Saxons who invaded oar own island, and from whom we 
are ourselves descended. They brought with them their 
healthy German habits, their reverence for authority, their 
ideas concerning the sanctity of the home, their respect for 
women. There arc not very many victorious generals who 
would have waited four years for the permission of a beaten 
foe to marry a captive maiden. Tlie old order was changing, 
the empire was passing away, but something healthier was 
taking its place. There was hope for the world now that the 
" barbarians " had conquered Rome. 

Four years after his marriage with Placidia Constantius 
was associated with Honorius on the throne of the West, 
Placidia receiving the title of Augusta. Constantius only 
reigned for seven months, long enough, however, to make 421. 
him regret that he had exchanged the position of a private 
gentleman for that of a king. 

After her husband's death Placidia's life at Ravenna Avas 
not comfortable, so she went with her two children to the 
court of her nephew, Theodosius II., at Constantinople. 

Soon afterwards Honorius died. By some absurd intrigue 423. 
an obscure man, Joannes, was raised to the throne. But Theo- 
dosius II. interfered on behalf of his cousin, and Joannes was 
deposed, though not until he had reigned for eighteen months. 
Placidia's boy succeeded as Valentinian III., and the mother, 
herself only tliirty-five, acted as regent. Placidia ruled the 
Western Empire for twenty-five years, first as regent for her 
son and afterwards as his adviser. The capital continued to 
be at Ravenna, which abounds in interesting memorials of her 

Placidia had the misfortune to add Africa to the hst of 
provinces which had already fallen from the Western Empire. 
Its loss came about in this wise. The queen had two generals, 
Bonifacius and ^tius. They were brave and able men but 


jealous of one another. It has been said that either man 
could by himself have saved the empire, but together they 
destroyed it. 

Boniface first comes into notice in 412 when he repelled an 
assault of the Goths under Adolphus upon Marseilles. After- 
wards he went to Africa and became governor of that pro- 
vince. He was loyal to the house of Theodosius and had a 
most honourable reputation. 

-i^tius had led a somewhat exciting and changeful career 
but entered the service of Placidia in Ravenna and became 
count of Italy and her chief adviser. Jealous of the high 
regard which his royal mistress had for Boniface, ^Etius 
plotted against liim, so misrepresenting matters to him that 
Boniface believed the queen meant to have his life ; and so 
misrepresenting matters to Placidia that she believed that 
Boniface contemplated rebellion. Deeming himself in immi- 
nent danger Boniface sought help from the Vandals, who, at 
that time were struggling with the Visigoths in the Spanish 

429. Peninsula and not holding their own. Glad of the diversion 
the Vandals crossed to Africa under Gaiseric their king. The 
Spaniards furthered their departure by lending them ships, 
and Gaiseric crossed with all his followers, their families and 
their goods. 

Scarcely had the Vandals arrived in Africa, when Boniface 
found that he had been the victim of a plot and deceived about 
the feelings and intentions of Placidia. He now eagerly en- 
treated the Vandals to return to Spain, making magnificent 
promises. But they laughed at his promises, for Northern 
- Africa was fair, and in any case their return was for ever 

432. Boniface had accordingly no help for it but to oppose the 

men whom he had invited to be his allies. But they were too 
strong for him, and at last, utterly beaten, he fled to Italy. 
Placidia received him kindly, but he engaged in a duel with 
/Etius and was mortally wounded. 

The treachery of yEtius displeased Placidia, and for a tinae 


he was under a cloud. But lie was too powerful to be set 
aside, and he was restored to power and was her chief minister 
for the last seventeen years of her reign. 

Meanwhile the Vandals ravaged the African province. 
Their task was easy because for some time the province had 
been chsintegrated and torn asunder by the persecution of the 
Donatists. Many indeed looked upon the Vandal incursion as 
a direct visitation from the Almighty, a judgment upon the 
Catholics for their cruel treatment of their Christian brethren. 
We have already dealt with this in our sketch of the life of 
Augustine and have seen how he died wliilst the Vandals were 
besieging Hippo, the seat of his bishopric. 

The Vandals did not spare the country, and it was impos- 
sible for the empire to render effective help. Carthage held 
out for some years, but at length surrendered, and with its 
fall the African province was finally severed from the empire. 

The city of Rome felt the loss of Africa most keenly of all. 440. 
In earlier times her corn supply had come chiefly from Egypt, 
but for centuries Africa had been her granary. That the 
country from which she drew her food supply should be in the 
hands of enemies was indeed serious. As a consequence the 
population of Rome which had increased again after the death 
of Alaric began rapidly to fall. The city had never been self- 
sufficing, nor had it paid for its food by honest labour. Great 
numbers of its citizens were little better than paupers, depend- 
ing upon imperial doles. For this class there was now httle 
room in Rome. 

Strangely enough there were still families in Rome pos- 
sessed of vast wealth. We have it on record that some families 
had revenues of £200,000 per annum. Famihes with only 
£50,000 per annum were considered of the second rank. These 
huge incomes were not the product of legitimate industry, but 
were acquired from huge monopolies of land, of house pro- 
perty and of slave labour. 

Placidia died at Rome in the sixtieth year of her age. That 450. 
year the imperial court had been removed from Ravenna to 


Rome, but Placidia's remains were carried back to Ravenna. 
By some strange fancy her embalmed body was set upright in 
a chair in the mausoleum, arrayed in royal robes. So it re- 
mained for a thousand years, the most extraorcUnary sight in 
Ravenna. Unhappily, in 1577, an accident happened, the 
robes caught fire, and in a few minutes only a handful of ashes 
remained. . 



We have seen how the Northern races of Europe gradually- 
encroached upon the Southern until they had vanquished 
them so far that tliey could settle almost where they liked 
within the empire. In this contest European vanquished 
European, and though the victors may not have been so highly 
cultured in some respects as the vanquished, they had many 
good qualities and were superior in many ways to the races 
among whom they settled. The triumph of the Teutons was 
a blessing to Europe, 

But scarcely had the new-comers become thoroughly settled 
in their holdings when a dark cloud arose in the East, threaten- 
ing a storm which seemed likely to engulf both victors and 
vanquished. This new danger came from the Huns, a nation- 
ality belonging to the Turanian or Tartar race. 

It is not known with certainty how the Huns first came 
to Europe, but Chinese history gives us a clue. From it we 
learn that the region between Turkestan and the Chinese 
frontier, north of Tibet, and now spoken of as Mongolia, was 
in early times inhabited by a nomadic race called the Hiong- 
Nu, Even before the Christian era the Chinese had fought 
continually against this people, and the great wall of China, 
1,500 miles in length, was built to guard Eastern China from 
the Hiong-Nu or Hun. 

Early in the Christian era the Huns broke in twain, and 
one section of them allied themselves with the Chinese empire, 
whilst the others wandered towards Europe. The old bar- 
barian empire of the Hiong-Nu came to an end, and such of the 
Huns as were dissatisfied with Chinese suzerainty migrated 



westward and settled round the Caspian and the Sea of Azof, in 
the rec^ions watered by the Ural, Volga and Don. 

For nearly three centuries the Huns made little stir. Pro- 
bably they longed for the East whence they had come, but 
warlike races of their own breed now filled the regions their 
forefathers had abandoned, and return was impossible. As 
therefore they increased in numbers and got back the old 
fighting spirit, they moved westward. 

The regions beyond the Rhine and the Danube, which lay 
between the empire and the Huns, were inhabited by the 
Teutonic tribes, of whom so much has already been said, who 
had swarmed down from the shores of the Baltic. They also 
were great fighters, and the Huns for a long time hesitated 
to meddle with them. But as time went on the Goths settled 
down to peaceful pursuits and prospered, and the Huns, who 
preferred a wandering hfe, began to raid their more wealthy 

Those who have seen Tartars can imagine the dread with 
which the Teutons first beheld this strange-looking race that 
had fallen upon them. When the Tartar countenance becomes 
familiar it is pleasing enough, but at first it strangely repels. 
When, therefore, in the fourth century the Huns pressed 
westward, many of the Teutons, rather than live with this new 
and, as they thought, loathsome people, determined to migrate. 
In a former chapter we saw how when the Ostrogoths had 
been defeated by the Huns and they were pressing forward 
upon the Visigoths, the latter besought Valens to let them 
enter the empire. We have also seen how he assented, and 
what important results followed. This was in the Danubian 
provinces, but farther north in the Rhine provinces the Teutons 
also crossed in great numbers about this time, and settled in 
Gaul and Spain. 

By the Teutonic migrations some part of Eastern Europe 
was left derelict, and the Huns flocked in until their leaders 
became supreme through the regions lying beyond the Rhine 
and Danube, from the Baltic even to the Black Sea. For a 


time they were content with this eastern sovereignty, and left 
the empire undisturbed, some of them even serving as auxih- 
aries in tlie imperial armies. But gradually they began to 
reahse their own strength and Rome's weakness, and then 
their tactics changed. 

Early in the fifth century, Rugila, king of the Huns, 
claimed lordship over all Europe east of the Danube. When 
Rome made alliance with some Danubian tribes whom he 
claimed as subjects, he threatened war and was only pacified on 
receiving tribute from Theodosius II. 

Rugila died and was succeeded by his nephews, Attila and 433. 
Bleda. They reigned unitedly for twelve years, then Bleda 
died and Attila reigned alone. Attila was neither a great 
general nor a hero. He was merely a fighter and a bully, and 
he ruled by terror. He was a land pirate and might fitly have 
fought under the black flag. But his style suited the Huns 
and they flocked to his standard until he could put half a 
milUon fierce and unscrupulous warriors into the field. 

At the time when Rugila died an embassy was on its way 
to liim from Theodosius. Many deserters had fled from his 
yoke and taken refuge in the empire. Rugila demanded their 
surrender, and Theodosius sent ambassadors to discuss the 
question. Attila met them and entered into an agreement 
by which the tribute promised by Theodosius was doubled. 

During the following seven years Attila carried his arms 
over Eastern Europe. Opposition to such a man with such an 
army seemed futile, and he terrorised Europe as far as the 
Zuyder Zee. Some think that the considerable migi'ation of 
Angles and Saxons to Britain at this time may have been 
caused in part by their desire to escape from the hordes of 

Attila's personal dominions were in Hungary, and his bar- 
baric capital was situated in the neighbourhood of Buda Pesth. 
Though the name Hungary is suggestive, and though traces 
of Tartar origin are not wholly absent from the people, the 
connection of the modern Hungarian with the Hun is remote. 


The Hungarians of the present day derive their origin rather 
from tlio Turks or Magyars who occupied Hungary towards 
tlie end of the ninth century. 

441. At last Attila fell foul of the Eastern Empire. The bishop 

of Margas had madly crossed the Danube on a marauding 
expedition and robbed a treasure house of the Huns. Attila 
demanded his surrender, and, seeing that this was imminent, 
the bishop determined to anticipate matters, crossed to Attila, 
and treacherously offered to put him in possession of the city 
of Margus if he would spare his life. Attila agreed, the Huns 
crossed and Margus was destroyed. 

447. Some years later Attila, now sole ruler of the Huns, invaded 

the Eastern Empire in force, defeated such armies as were sent 
against him, and ravished Thrace, even to the walls of Con- 
stantinople, Anatohus, a Roman of high rank, went to his 
camp to negotiate peace. He got peace, but on hard terms ; 
the yearly tribute, which had been doubled by Attila, was now 
trebled, and a huge sum had to be paid down as compensation 
before the Huns would retire. The raising of these sums of 
money from an already impoverished people caused great suffer- 
ing in the Eastern Empire. Torture was sometimes resorted 
to by the revenue officers in order to compel payment of the 
assessed taxes. 

Perceiving the abject condition of the court at Constan- 
tinople Attila took full advantage of his opportunity, sending 
ambassadors quarterly and extorting money on the most ridicu- 
lous pretexts. In order to get rid of the robber a plot was 
hatched at Constantinople against his life, but he discovered it, 
and war was only averted by humble apologies and rich gifts. 

450. When Theodosius II. died he left no son, and he was 

succeeded by liis sister Pulcheria, who married Marcian, a 
noble. Pulcheria and her consort determined not to yield 
as tamely to Attila as Theodosius had done, and withheld the 
tribute. Attila blustered, but they were firm, and he, per- 
ceiving that affairs in Constantinople were being managed in a 
different way, and perhaps knowing also that there was httle 


more to be gathered from the East in any case, now turned his 
attention towards the M^estern Empire. 

Valentinian III. ruled at Ravenna, with i^tius as his prime 
minister. iEtius had been a friend of the former king of the 
Huns and had even utihsed the services of the Huns in his 
own interests. But he had nothing to gain by helping Attila, 
and he did his very best for Italy and Valentinian. 

After several insulting messages had been received from 
Attila it became evident that he intended to attack the empire, 
and JEtius prepared for a very serious conflict. The Italians 
were not fit to cope with the Huns by themselves, and had 
Attila invaded Italy at once the result might have been fatal. 
Fortunately for Europe he took Gaul first. He had some idea 
that he would obtain allies in Gaul. The Alans who dwelt 
round Valence and were themselves of Turanian origin had been 
in correspondence with him and he hoped that they would 
fight on his side. He therefore determined to invade the 
empire by way of Gaul. 

More than half Gaul was now governed by Teutonic races, 
the Franks, the Burgundians and the Visigoths. The last 
named, whose settlements lay on the Bay of Biscay and 
stretched, as we have seen, across the Pyrenees into Spain, 
were the most important. Theodoric, their king, was popular 
and warhke, so also was Thorismond, liis son. But whether 
they would rise at Rome's bidding to defend the empire re- 
mained to be seen. 

Recognising the importance of dividing his foes Attila sent 

two embassies, one to Theodoric, one to Valentinian. To 

Theodoric he professed to come as a dehverer, and entreated 

him to rise against the Romans, the enemies of his people. To 

Valentinian he sent an embassy declaring that he only desired 

to punish his old enemies the Goths, Of course he deceived 

neither, and both armed for the fray, -^tius got together 

such forces as he could command with all speed, but the Goths 

were slow to move, nor did they actually take the field until 

the tide of battle threatened their borders. 
VOL. II. 21 


451. Attila moved westward with an innumerable host. His 

troops crossed the Rhine in two sections, half near its mouth, 
half in the neighbourhood of Strasbourg. City after city fell, 
and soon all Gaul north of the Seine was a desert. 

When they had sacked many cities the Huns reached 
Orleans (AureHani), an important city belonging to the Franks 
but near the territory of the Visigoths. Anianus, the bishop 
of the city, anticipated the siege and resolved to make a stout 
defence. He visited iEtius at Aries, and stipulated that relief 
should come at latest before 24th June. Then he returned to 
the city, and inspired his people to vigorous resistance, ^tius 
did his best to hasten matters, but the promised day had 
arrived before the relieving army reached the city, a breach 
had been made, and the Huns were fighting their way in . At 
this critical moment the relieving forces arrived, and the 
besieging party were driven from the city with great loss. 

Attila knew now that he had men to deal with, and rea- 
lising that a serious defeat in the middle of Gaul would mean 
destruction, he retired Rhineward for a hundred miles until he 
reached the plain in which the city of Troyes now stands. 
Near this city, at a place now called Mery-sur-Seine, a battle 
big with fate was fought. Both sides realised the import- 
ance of the struggle. 

Attila showed little generalship. He commanded the Hun 
centre, and threw himself with all his might on the centre of 
his foe. He succeeded in breaking through, but this proved of 
little consequence. His enemies were fighting in two sections 
in any case, on the right. King Theodoric with his Visigoths, 
on the left, iEtius with the Romans. The centre was their 
weakest point, for there they had placed the Alans in whom 
they had little confidence. The Visigoths were confused for 
a moment by the flight of the Alans, and then, regaining con- 
fidence, rushed upon the Huns with the utmost intrepidity. 
iEtius also did his part. Both wings of the Huns were beaten, 
and then the forces so pressed on the centre that Attila had 
much ado to fight his way back to camp, where, sheltered by 


the waggons, his forces ralHed. The slaughter was terrific, 
about three hundred thousand were slain. So numerous 
were the forces and so widely spread was the fighting, that 
Thorismond and ^tius lost their way and knew not how the 
battle had sped until morning, when they also learned the sad 
news that Theodoric the king of the Goths had fallen. 

Next day Attila clung to his camp, and it was evident that, 
though not utterly defeated, he had received a repulse which 
made his retreat inevitable. Thorismond and -^tius therefore 
determined not to imperil the success they had attained by 
storming the camp. Thorismond, chosen king on the field of 
battle, hurried to Toulouse, his capital, to make his succession 
sure, and ^tius drew back and watched the foe. Attila was 
astonished at not being attacked, and ^Etius has been blamed 
for not attacking him ; but he knew his own business best. 
The Hunnish force was still immense, and the force which had 
defeated them was small in comparison. It was better to let 
well alone. 

As for Attila, this serious clieck left him no alternative. 
Thankful to be allowed to retire in peace he recrossed the 
Rhine and returned to his home in Hungary. He had been 
well beaten, and knew that the Goths were his masters. He 
determined that next time he would invade Italy and leave 
the others severely alone. 

Next year Attila again took the field, and having crossed 452. 
the Julian Alps laid siege to Aquileia. This important city, 
which had already successfully resisted many invaders, made a 
stubborn defence. When at last it fell it was abandoned to 
the rage and lust of the Tartar horde, and then levelled with the 
ground. Henceforth the city virtually disappears from history. 
After the fall of Aquileia the invading host spread over the 
plains of Venetia and Lombardy, ravaging the country and 
destroying city after city. When at length the cities ceased 
to resist and opened their gates on his approach, Attila spared 
the buildings but looted the cities and carried their inhabitants 
into slavery. 


It is contended by some that the first inhabitants of the 
islands on which Venice is built may have been fugitives from 
Aquileia and other cities which Attila destroyed. The idea is 
picturesque and may be true. But Venice did not become of 
commercial importance for some centuries after this time. 

When the valley of the Po had been wasted, the invaders 
halted, doubtful whether to march upon Rome or not. Valen- 
tinian and iEtius had retired to that city from Ravenna. The 
Roman court, taking advantage of the breathing space, sent an 
embassy to treat with the Hun. The chief ambassador was 
the bishop of Rome, Pope Leo I., a man of high character and 
stately presence. He met Attila on the banks of the Mincio, 
and made so favourable an impression upon the barbarian that 
he promised to return home and henceforth live at peace with 
the Romans. Apparently Attila's officers counselled modera- 
tion, and it is not unlikely that the Huns had gathered as 
much booty as they could conveniently carry and were anxious 
to convey it safely home. 
453. A few months after his return to Hungary Attila died in 

his bed, suffocated by breaking an artery in a drunken fit. 

Attempts have been made to compare Attila with other 
military conquerors. But there are few important names 
known to history that would not be insulted by the compari- 
son. Men have fought for conquest, country, plunder, love of 
fighting. Attila ravened like a mad beast from mere lust of 
blood. Through terror a vast tract of country submitted to 
his will, but he attempted no government and organised no 
empire. When he died no loyal band of followers rallied round 
his offspring. His empire died with him. Men awoke as if 
from a nightmare and thanked God that a new day had 



The death of Attila was followed by the dissolution of his 453. 
empire. He left heirs indeed, several sons of suitable age^ 
who proceeded to cUvide their father's empire between them. 
But the empire decUned to recognise them. Attila's influence 
had been purely personal. Surrounded by a multitude of un- 
scrupulous warriors he had crushed out opposition in Eastern 
Europe and compelled obedience. The tribes thought it better 
to submit than to be destroyed, better to plunder with Attila 
than be plundered by him. 

Of the tribes who had joined the confederacy some were 
Teutons, some were Huns. Between these races there had 
never been any love lost, and the great battle in Gaul had not 
improved their relationship. When, therefore, Attila's per- 
sonal influence was removed they fell into two camps and were 
speedily at one another's throats. 

A battle was fought in Hungary, and the Huns were de- 454. 
feated. Thirty thousand were slain, amongst whom was EUak, 
Attila's first-born. Thus weakened the Huns lost confidence 
and retired across Dacia and the Carpathians to the regions in 
Southern Russia whence they had issued three centuries be- 
fore. The Huns never again appeared as a separate nation to 
trouble Europe, but we find the same wild spirit and the same 
daring horsemanship amongst the Cossacks, a mixed race but 
having much Tartar blood. 

Whilst Attila terrorised Europe, iEtius, Rome's one gen- 
eral since Stilicho, was indispensable. He gained great in- 
fluence, and therefore also raised up for himself many enemies. 

Amongst these was Valentinian III., the emperor, a small- 



minded man, jealous of his minister, and easily persuaded that 
he had revolutionary designs. With the help of HeracHus, 
another minister who was jealous of iEtius, he enticed him 
into the palace without an escort and slew him with his own 
hand. A few months later Valentinian and Heraclius were 
themselves assassinated, and iEtius was avenged. 

Valentinian III. left no son, and with him the house of 
Theodosius became extinct. Maximus, a distinguished senator 
of advanced years, was chosen by the army and people as 
emperor. Maximus did not reign wisely, and soon lost his 
popularity. Hoping to better consolidate his power he en- 
deavoured to persuade Eudoxia, the widow of Valentinian, to 
marry him, but she refused. He was twice her age, and she 
may have suspected him of comphcity in the murder of her 
husband, though this is unlikely. The story goes that, en- 
raged at liis importunity, Eudoxia invited the Vandals to in- 
vade Italy, and that Gaiseric came at her invitation. It is 
true that three months after the death of Valentinian III. an 
immense Vandal fleet under Gaiseric appeared oft* Ostia, the 
port of Rome. But though Eudoxia may have looked upon 
the coming of the Vandals with equanimity she could have 
had nothing to do with the expedition. An expedition of such 
magnitude must have been long in preparation, and the entire 
reign of Maximus only extended over three months. 

Doubtless from the time when Attila made so easy a con- 
quest of Northern Italy, but left Rome untouched, Gaiseric 
had his eye upon that city. When Attila died he probably 
began to prepare. Then came news of the murder of ^tius, 
the only general whom he had to fear. When this was fol- 
lowed by the murder of Valentinian Gaiseric knew that the 
hour had come. 

That we may better understand the events wliich follow, it 
is desirable that we should recall the main facts about the 

The Vandals had come from Northern Germany hke the 
Goths and other Teutonic peoples, they were all of the same 


stock and were, in appearance, laws and language closely 

In the third century the emperor Aurelian made a treaty 271. 
with the Vandals by which they promised to supply a stated 
number of horsemen to the Roman army. They kept their 
promise, and for a long time there was a Vandal wing in the 
imperial army. Many Vandals entered the service of the 
empire in this way, and some rose to distinction. Of these 
StiKcho was the chief. 

Constantine permitted the Vandals to settle in Western 330. 
Hungary, and they were faithful subjects of the empire. Many 
of them became Christians, adopting the Arian doctrine which 
Ulfilas, the great apostle of the Goths, had preached. So 
greatly did they reverence the memory of Ulfilas that they 
carried a copy of his Gothic translation of the Scriptures with 
them in their wanderings, and consulted it as an oracle when 

Early in the fifth century the tribes began to pour into 406. 
Gaul, and a confederacy of Vandals, Sueves and Alans crossed 
the Rhine. They fought their way southwards through Gaul, 
crossed the Pyrenees, and entered Spain. 

Some years later the Visigoths also crossed the Pyrenees 414. 
under Adolphus, and Spain became a battleground for the 
Teutonic nations. The country suffered terribly, but gradually 
the tribes settled down, the Sueves in the North-west, the Visi- 
goths in the North-east, the Alans in Portugal, and tlie Vandals 
in Andalusia. The Alans, who were of Hunnish extraction, 
were cut to pieces by the Visigoths, and became so reduced in 
numbers that they joined the Vandals, and one man was king 
over both. 

We have in a previous chapter seen how count Boniface, 429. 
alarmed at the threatenings of the court at Ravenna, sought 
help from the Vandals, and how they crossed to Africa at his 
request. They were glad to leave Spain, for they were over- 
shadowed by the Visigoths. Gaiseric, king of the Vandals and 
Alans, gathered his people together, old and young, male and 


female, near Gibraltar. They were not very numerous, only 
80,000 all told, of whom 20,000 were able to bear arms. 

Scarcely had the Vandals landed in Africa when Boniface 
repented of his rash act and begged them to return, offering 
bribes. But return was now impossible to them even had they 
been willing, and they laughed him to scorn. 

Though their host was small, the Vandals carried every- 
thing before them. Parts of the province had never taken 
kindly to the Roman yoke, and it is likely that some even 
joined the invading army. The province also had been rent 
in twain by rehgious persecution, and many of those who 
would under ordinary circumstances have been the invader's 
strongest foes, looked upon his coming as a relief and did not 
liinder even if they did not actively help his progress. . 

Soon Gaiseric had gained all the province except the im- 
portant cities of Hippo, Cirta and Carthage. He besieged 
430. Hippo, where Boniface, the count of Africa, had taken refuge. 
Hippo was the home of Augustine. He was bishop there, and 
had a great share of responsibihty for the persecutions which 
had so weakened the province. He and the other bishops 
were now sore at heart, because they were receiving from the 
Vandals the measure they had meted out to their brethren. 
During the siege of Hippo Augustine died. 

Gaiseric found that though he could overcome the Romans 
in the field he could not capture walled cities, so he gave up 
the attempt. But when the Romans had been reinforced and 
again defeated, and Boniface had fled to Rome, the imperial 
court decided to give up the struggle. Peace was accordingly 
made on the understanding that Hippo should be surrendered 
to the Vandals and that Carthage should be spared. After a 
few years, however, Gaiseric captured Carthage, and the Van- 
dals were now masters of the entire province. 

Supreme in Africa, Gaiseric soon won for the Vandals the 
supremacy of the Mediterranean. He built a fine fleet, and 
for thirty years sailed hither and tliither on marauding ex- 
peditions. It may have been partly in connection with these 


expeditions that the name of Vandal obtained its pecuHar signi- 
ficance. But it may also partly have sprung from the religious 
pohcy of the Vandals in Nortli Africa. They retaliated upon 
the orthodox CathoHc party for the treatment which the Arians 
had received from them there and elsewhere throughout the 
empire. Undoubtedly the Arians had been badly treated. It 
will be remembered, for instance, that bishop Ambrose refused 
to allow them a single edifice in Milan where they could wor- 
ship according to their consciences, and this although many 
of the soldiers were Arians and the empress herself was 
an Arian. Similar treatment had been meted out to them 
wherever the orthodox party had the upperhand. It must 
be confessed that when the Arians had the advantage they 
generally sliowed a similar spirit. They tUd it now in 
Africa. The orthodox bishops were persecuted and exiled, 
and such churches as were not utihsed for Ari-in worship 
were destroyed. 

It is probable also that many of the Donatists, smarting 
under the recent persecution, made common cause with the 
Vandals, and took this opportunity of paying some of their 
persecutors back in their own coin. 

But there is no substantial proof that the Vandals were 
specially cruel, and the association of the word with wanton 
destructiveness is unjustifiable. The idea that the Vandals were 
the most fierce of the northern nations is equally incorrect. On 
the contrary, up to the time of Gaiseric, they were considered 
the least warHke. 

It is interesting to know that the Christians of North 
Africa had the habit which we generally associate with the 
Puritans of giving or assuming names in which the name 
of the Deity appears. One bishop was named Habet-Deum, 
He has God ; another Quod-Vult, What God wills ; a third 
Deogratias, Thanks to God. Augustine's son, it will be re- 
membered, was named A-deo-datus, Given by God. Amongst 
the Hebrews this practice was very common,*and the same is 
true of the Assyrians and Babylonians. The throne names of 


their kings were generally taken in compliment to their patron 
455. When the Vandals had been supreme in North Africa for a 

quarter of a century, and had also become supreme in the 
Mediterranean, they determined to attack Rome itself. Taking 
advantage of the unsettled state of the city, when iEtius, the 
commander-in-chief, and Valentinian III., the emperor, had 
been murdered, Gaiseric sailed with a formidable armament 
and suddenly appeared before Ostia. 

Rome was panic-stricken, and the people believing them- 
selves betrayed and demanding a victim, slew Maximus, the 
respectable and unfortunate senator who had been rash enough 
to ascend the throne. Maximus was no more to blame for the 
Vandal invasion than any one else, but an emperor has to take 
his chances. 

A few days after the death of Maximus, Gaiseric and his 
forces appeared before the gates of Rome. Pope Leo I., who 
had formerly negotiated successfully vrith Attila, was again in 
requisition and sent to meet the great Vandal. The Vandals 
had no special grudge against either Rome or the Romans ; 
they merely wanted plunder. Accordingly the bishop bar- 
gained that if the people took peacefully the spoiling of their 
goods there should be no wanton destruction and no bloodshed. 
The Ijargain was hard, but it was the best he could do. 

For two weeks the city was searched, systematicaUy and in 
leisurely fashion, and everything that could be carried and was 
worth carrying was put on board the fleet. There was no out- 
rage, no massacre, and very little demoHtion of buildings. But 
gold, silver, precious stones, and merchandise of every sort was 
sought out and taken away. The Vandals began stripping the 
golden roof of a church, but desisted when they found out that 
it was only copper-gilt. 

Perhaps the most interesting of the spoils taken to Africa 
were the sacred vessels of the Hebrew temple which had been 
brought from Jerusalem by Titus, and are to be seen depicted 
upon his arch at Rome. They were now taken to Africa 


and kept in the palace. Eighty years after, as we shall see, 
Belisarius, Justinian's great general, invaded Africa, overcame 
Gehmer, king of the Vandals, and recovered much treasure, the 
vessels of the temple amongst the rest. 

It vrould have been well had the Vandals contented them- 
selves with gold and silver. Unfortunately they also carried 
with them to Africa many captives, both male and female. At 
last Rome knew something of the bitterness of the draught she 
had made so many of the nations drink. 

The captives were of every rank, from Eudoxia, the em- 
press, with her daughters, downwards. Eudoxia was treated 
with consideration, and one of her daughters afterwards mar- 
ried Hunneric, the son of Gaiseric. As regards the rest of the 
captives they were sold as slaves and scattered over North 
Africa. The bishop of Carthage did what he could to alleviate 
the miseries of the unfortunates. He turned churches into 
hospitals, ransomed as far as his means would allow, and en- 
deavoured to keep families from being torn asunder. Rome 
herself never made any attempt at ransoming on a large scale, 
and the descendants of the captives must still be numerous in 
Northern Africa. 

Just 600 years had gone by since the Romans, blinded by 
ignorance and pride, had razed Carthage to the ground, burned 
its ruins and passed the plough over its site. And now from 
Carthage issued forth the armament which sacked Rome and 
carried thousands of her citizens into captivity. 



455. When Gaiseric left Rome the silence of despair fell upon the 
city. The throne was vacant and no one dared occupy it. At 
last after a three months interregnum news came from Gaul 
that Avitus, a nobleman of Auvergne, had assumed the purple 
at Aries. 

Avitus was a good man who had already done the State 
service. As a boy he lived at Toulouse, and was intimate with 
the family of the Gothic king. Afterwards he joined the 
imperial army and served under iEtius. Then he retired to 
Auvergne and lived privately. When Attila invaded Gaul 
and vEtius was eager to gain the support of Theodoric, he 
remembered the old f riendsliip between him and Avitus, and 
sent the latter as an ambassador to his court. On that occasion 
Avitus did splendid service by persuading the Goths to enter 
the alliance by means of which Attila was driven out of Gaul. 

Theodoric I. had been succeeded by Thorismund, and he 
by Theodoric II., who now reigned. The old friendship be- 
tween Avitus and the Gothic court continued, and when news 
came that Maximus was dead Theodoric II. advised him to 
assume the purple, and promised his support. Avitus agreed, 
the Gauls acquiesced, and Rome accepted the new emperor 
without demur. 

456. There was, however, in the Roman army a general named 

Ricimer, a man of much ability and ambition. He was Suevian 

on the paternal side and a grandson of Walia the Goth on the 

maternal. His sister was married to the king of the Bur- 

gundians. Thus he was a man of distinction and influence. 

Winning an important victory over a Vandal fleet which was 



lying off Corsica and seemed to threaten Rome, he became 
popular, and determined to overthrow Avitus. Avitus saw 
that he could not successfully oppose him, and abchcated. 

Ricimer could now have ascended the throne without diffi- 
culty. But he knew the danger of the position and avoided it. 
He preferred to be king-maker, and as such was virtual head 
of the commonwealth for sixteen years. 

After a short interregnum Ricimer elevated Majorian to 457. 
the throne. Majorian was a leading official who had served 
under ^tius, and had helped Ricimer to overthrow Avitus. 
For this service he was first made commander-in-chief and 
then emperor. He was not unworthy of the position. He 
passed laws against the rapacity of tax-collectors, against 
illegal exactions by officials, against celibacy and about the 
currency. He tried to prevent the destruction of historic 
buildings and ancient monuments. The city officials were 
puffing these down on the pretext that the stones were wanted 
for other works, both public and private. Majorian decreed 
that those who did this should be beaten with clubs and have 
their hands struck off — " those hands which have deffied the 
ancient monuments which they ought to have preserved". 
Those of an antiquarian turn of mind will agree with the edict, 
though the punishment may have been somewhat severe. 
Some of the laws of Maj orian found a place in the Theodosian code. 

As a soldier Majorian distinguished himself by defeating a 
Vandal band in Campania, and driving them to their sliips. 
Encouraged by this, he determined to attack them in Africa. 
Making Spain the base of his operations, he prepared a fine 
fleet in Cartagena, and when it was ready marched round 
from Italy and Southern Gaul with a formidable army. Gai- 
seric was alarmed and sent ambassadors, but also used strata- 460. 
gem, and with the connivance of traitors got into the harbour 
of Cartagena and destroyed the fleet. The preparation of three 
years was destroyed in a few hours, and Majorian returned to 
Rome a disappointed man. Three months later he was de- 
throned and executed. 


461. Ricimer chose Severus II. as the next emperor. He reigned 

for four years and little is known of him. During this period 
Italy suffered greatly from Vandal pirates. The destruction 
of the Roman fleet at Cartagena had left the coasts at their 
mercy, they actually carried horses in their ships and scoured 
the country where they landed with hght cavalry. 

467. After the death of Severus II. there was an interregnum 
for twenty months. Such was the unhappy condition of Italy 
that Ricimer asked Leo, emperor at Constantinople, for help 
against the Vandals. Leo promised help on condition that 
Anthemius, his nominee, should be placed on the throne, and 
Ricimer agreed. 

468. Next year the Eastern and Western Empires united in a 
campaign against the Vandals. Leo spared no expense. A 
thousand ships and a hundred thousand men were assembled. 
MarceUinus, a Byzantine general, sailed with one expedition to 
Sardinia and drove the Vandals from that island. Heraclius, 
another Byzantine general, sailed to Tripoli, landed, subdued 
that district, and marched towards Carthage. 

Unfortunately the command of the main body was en- 
trusted to BasiHscus, brother-in-law of Leo, but an incompetent 
man. He landed his troops forty miles west of Carthage, and 
had he marched at once must have captured the city. But 
he lingered, actually granting Gaiseric five days to consider 
whether he would surrender or no. Gaiseric made a good use 
of the time. Gathering his ships together and favoured by 
the wind he flung the Carthaginian fleet with many fire sliips 
against the Roman vessels. A panic ensued, BasiHscus was 
routed and returned to Constantinople defeated and disgraced. 
Thus ended the expedition against the Vandals. Gaiseric was 
now left to work his will, and the coasts of Italy, Asia and 
Greece were at his mercy. 

470. The failure of Leo's expedition led to a quarrel between 

Ricimer and Anthemius, and Ricimer retired to Milan. His 
friends gathered around him, and when he had a sufficient 

472. army he marched on Rome. The city stood out for five 


months, after which the gates were opened and Anthemius 
was put to death. Six weeks later Ricimer himself died. 

The next emperor, Olybrius, only reigned for three months, 
but died a natural death. After a brief interregnum Glycerius 473. 
succeeded. But Leo, the emperor of the East, claimed the 
right of appointment, and nominated Julius Nepos, a Dalma- 
tian. Glycerius preferred not to contest the matter, and when 
Julius Nepos landed in Italy he retired. 

During the brief reign of Glycerius the Ostrogoths in- 473. 
vaded Italy, led by their king, Widemir. Glycerius persuaded 
them to cross Italy and enter Gaul, where they made alliance 
with the Visigoths. 

Julius Nepos reigned for fourteen months. During his 474. 
reign the Visigoths pressed into Roman Gaul, and the emperor 
bought peace by the surrender of Auvergne. Of all Gaul the 
Romans only held Provence, the small territory in which the 
Riviera is situated. 

The surrender of Auvergne was inevitable but unpopular. 
Even a decaying State clings to its provinces. There was a 
mutiny amongst the soldiers and they offered the supreme 
power to Orestes, their commander. Orestes refused it for 
himself, but nominated liis son Romulus, a boy of fourteen, as 
emperor. Nepos declined a contest and retired to Dalmatia. 

Though Orestes was the real monarch, Rome was now 476. 
nominally governed by one who bore the name of its legend- 
ary founder. He proved to be the last emperor, so that the 
founder and the last emperor had the same name. The boy 
emperor who was surnamed Augustulus reigned but ten 
months. During his short reign the Teutonic troops who 
formed the major part of the army demanded that one-tliird 
of the land of Italy should be divided amongst them. Orestes 
refused, whereupon they mutinied and invited Odovacar, a dis- 
tinguished general of Hun descent, to be king. The mutiny 
was successful, and Orestes was slain. Augustulus was spared. 
Odovacar gave him a pension and assigned to him the magni- 
ficent viUa Lucullus for a residence. 


477. Odovacar declined the title of emperor, and at his sugges- 
tion Augustulus and the Senate sent an embassy to Zeno, now 
emperor at Constantinople. The embassy disclaimed the ne- 
cessity or even the wish of continuing the imperial succession 
in Italy. One monarch was enough, they said, for both East 
and West, and they were content that he should dwell at Con- 
stantinople. They had chosen Odovacar, not as emperor, but 
merely to defend their interests, and they would be grateful 
to Zeno if he would recognise him as patrician and entrust the 
diocese of Italy to his care. Zeno at first demurred to the 
change but afterwards acquiesced. He invested Odovacar with 
the title of patrician, accepted the position of sole emperor, 
and had his statues erected in Rome. 

478. Thus simply was carried out a revolution of world-wide sig- 
nificance, no less than the winding up of the affairs of the 
Western Empire. After seven centuries of republic and five 
of empire, Rome stood stripped and bare, her possessions lost 
and her glory departed. 



We have now reached that point at which it is usual for his- 
torians to moraUse about the causes which led to the fall of the 
Roman Empire. It is less necessary that we should do this to 
any very great extent in the present instance as we have en- 
deavoured to point a moral whilst the history has proceeded. 
But a few words will be appropriate. 

First, let us say, that we do not accept, or, at any rate, 
accept with great quahfication, the opinion so uniformly ex- 
pressed that the Roman Empire was a blessing to humanity. 
That the Almighty brings good out of evil, and overrules all 
things with wisdom we are sure, but we cannot find in this 
belief any justification for aggrandisement and oppression. 

The acquisition of new territory by a State may sometimes 
be quite justifiable, and sometimes, if not altogether justifiable, 
at least excusable. When a country is sparsely peopled and 
other countries are full and overflowing, it may be natural and 
right that population should migrate and occupy the empty 
land. America is a case in point. When it was discovered, the 
territory now occupied by the United States and Canada was 
inhabited by a mere handful of wandering Indians who hved 
by hunting and were eternally at war. The population in- 
habiting those territories has now reached about 100,000,000, 
of whom a large proportion have come from congested dis- 
tricts. Such a readjustment of population is undoubtedly in 
the interests of humanity. 

Sometimes, indeed, a nation may find a sufficient excuse for 
the acquisition of new territory in the pressing need of har- 
bours for its produce or of an adequate frontier for its defence. 
VOL. II. (337) 22 


There was no reason for Rome confining lier political organisa- 
tion within her civic boundary. A city cannot easily be self- 
sufficing, and Rome was naturally entitled to surround herself 
with as much territory as would supply her wants. She might 
also as a matter of natural right secure for herself such a 
frontier as would guarantee her against the incursion of hostile 
bands. The limits of legitimate expansion were reached with 
the ocean and the Alps, and perhaps with the acquisition of the 
adjacent island of Sicily. Had Rome been content with these 
limits, the limits, in fact, of the Italy of to-day, she might have 
lasted in undiminished splendour from that day to this. She 
could have gone on developing her own peculiar institutions in 
her own way, an example instead of a warning, a blessing 
instead of a curse. 

The Roman Empire declined in the first place, therefore, 
just because it was an empire. Had Rome been content to 
remain a kingdom she need never have declined at all. The 
essential idea of a kingdom is that of a race ruhng itself. The 
essential idea of an empire is that of a race possessed of superior 
physical strength and warHke vigour undertaking to rule other 
races. Such a government lasts whilst the ruling race so tran- 
scends the others in strength that rebellion is hopeless, or so 
long as it is manifestly to the advantage of the subordinate 
nationalities that they should remain subordinate. 

But empire is always unstable, and it is better for humanity 
that it should be. It is far better for nations in the long run 
that they should be permitted to govern themselves and work 
out their own destiny. It is good neither for men nor for 
nations that they should be held in leading strings. And there 
is perhaps no nation that would not rather be governed in- 
differently by men of its own race than governed well by 

The Roman Empire may for a time have served a useful 
purpose. It represented certain principles of law, government 
and culture. Whether the nations whom it undertook to govern 
would not have done better even on these lines than the Romans 


did for them is a matter that may be fairly discussed. Family 
life was purer in Germany than in Rome, and constitutional 
freedom was at a higher level. If Rome was great in anything 
it was in law, and we must ascribe high honour to the Roman 
jurist. Yet the legal principles which underlie English common 
law to-day are not Roman but Saxon, 

The disease which ultimately killed the Roman Empire 
therefore began to take root when her generals crossed the Alps 
and the ocean in order to subjugate other nationalities. This 
was the initial error. But it soon led to others. When a 
nation assumes the right to govern it easily persuades itself 
that it has the right to enslave. For Rome the development 
was fatally easy and terribly disastrous. 

Slavery had existed in Rome, as indeed it existed over the 
whole world from the earliest historic times, but it was slavery 
of the old-fashioned patriarchal order, and its influence was not 
malignant. But when Roman speculators found that vast 
fortunes could be made by sweeping the tribes into the slave 
market slavery completely changed its character. To begin 
with, the facility with which this new wealth could be acquired 
encouraged aggressive warfare. Whilst Roman generals went 
forth poor and returned poor war had few charms. But when 
they went forth poor and returned millionaires it was a dif- 
ferent matter. There was money in war, and general, governor 
and speculator became partners in the nefarious enterprise. 
Rome expanded, not that she might find food for her people, or 
ports for her produce, or a scientific frontier for her defence, 
but for the sake of ill-gotten and unholy gain. 

Nor did the miserable consequences of this sort of imperial 
expansion end in the slave market. The nation whicli en- 
slaves others ends in being itself enslaved, and Rome was no 
exception. Soon she was the bond servant of idleness and im- 
morality. We have seen in former chapters how slave labour 
kills free labour just as inevitably as bad money displaces good. 
Whilst slaves are few certain tasks may be allotted to them and 
the evil influence of slavery may not be severely felt. But 


when they are numerous they absorb the manual labour of the 
country. In Rome matters were still worse. Generally speak- 
ing slaves are uneducated and only fit for manual labour. But 
the Romans made slaves of whole tribes, rich and poor, and the 
slaves were often better men than their masters, both in edu- 
cation and birth. The masters saw this and made it a means 
of gain, either using the men themselves in responsible posi- 
tions or hiring them out to those who could. Thus it came to 
pass that the shopkeeper, the artisan, the engineer, the clerk 
in the counting-house, the commercial traveller, the business 
manager, might all be slaves working for some aristocrat who 
allowed them a scanty pittance and became fabulously rich 
upon the balance of their gains. It has been estimated that 
at one period there were 50,000,000 slaves in the empire. 
Even a poor man would have ten slaves, and a well-to-do 
citizen might have 10,000 or 20,000. 

The result of this unprecedented development of slavery 
was fatal. The middle class, the backbone of every well-ordered 
State was squeezed out of existence. Those who were enter- 
prising emigrated, finding homes in Gaul, Asia, Dacia, and 
other provinces. Those who remained sank into the condition 
of paupers. The freeman, whose hardy ancestors had fought 
Rome's battles, found no place for himself in this social organ- 
isation, and drifted towards the metropolis, where he might 
at least become a sharer in the public dole. His ancestor had 
been a hero ; his child was a mendicant. 

The pauperisation of the Roman proletariat by free distri- 
bution of bread was partly a cause and partly a result. The 
pernicious habit began under the Republic and before slavery 
had attained the proportions which it did in later years. In 
the earliest times the common people were oppressed, then they 
were pampered. Generals and governors in grain-producing 
provinces purchased popularity by sending huge gifts of 
grain. The fact that food could often be had for nothing in 
the capital drew paupers there, and as slave labour extended 
in the rural districts paupers became more and more numer- 


0U8. Thus the giving of doles, begun as a luxury, became 
a necessity. 

This abnormal development of slavery greatly weakened 
the defensive power of the empire. The hardy peasant, who 
had for centuries been the backbone of Roman power, disap- 
peared, pressed out by the huge plantation worked by slave 
labour. Now slaves could be depended upon to raise money 
for their owners, but not to defend the empire. For a time, 
though Rome lacked men, she had money, and with the money 
she bought soldiers. For centuries her frontiers were de- 
fended, and even her conquests made by foreigners. In the 
subjugation of Britain, for instance, comparatively few Italian 
soldiers were employed, the Dutch, the Belgians and the Gauls 
did most of the work. Gradually the old-fashioned Roman 
soldier became extinct and his place was filled by mercenaries 
of every race, the Teutonic predominating. This could not 
last for ever. The time came when Rome could not afibrd to 
buy armies, and when the surrounding nations declined to be 
bought. Then the frontier was easily crossed, and the empire 
was found to be hollow. The Teutonic armies marched hither 
and thither scarcely encountering an enemy. Slaves there 
were in abundance, but why should slaves fight ? Between the 
first and second sieges of Rome by Alaric 40,000 slaves fled 
from their masters and took refuge in his camp. A State 
wliich cannot reckon on its own inhabitants to resist its 
enemies is doomed. 

With the wider slavery came also deeper corruption. Slav- 
ery terribly avenges itself. The wretch who is bought and 
sold like a beast is not always the worst sufferer. The com- 
munity that thus deals with its fellow-man loses all delicacy of 
feeling. The standard of morahty is lowered, and crimes which 
in other countries would be regarded with horror are perpe- 
trated without a blush. In a slave-owning country life is held 
cheap, murder and outrage are of everyday occurrence, and 
ordinary commonplace virtue almost ceases to exist. Old and 
young become alike saturated with immorahty. In Rome, with 


its population of wealthy idlers, slaves and paupers, the moral 
code was practically in abeyance. 

The fall of Rome was undoubtedly hastened by the wretch- 
edness of her finance. During her palmy days the city thought 
but of conquest. Why trouble about economy when generals 
were adding provinces to the empire and sending home ever- 
increasing quantities of plunder ? Account keeping was work 
for slaves. As a result Rome produced no great chancellor of 
the exchequer and taxes were levied with little regard for 
equity. If an emperor occasionally endeavoured to rectify 
matters he was looked upon as mean. Those who, like Titus, 
threw away money with both hands, were fine fellows. 

The way in which the taxes were raised was villainously 
oppressive. The revenue demanded for legitimate State ex- 
penses was not excessive, and had it been fairly raised it would 
not have unduly oppressed the people. But the Roman financier 
not only relied upon the worst forms of taxation, but raised 
the taxes in the worst possible way. The taxes were largely 
farmed, and farming means the bitterest oppression and the 
most abominable waste. The fiscal methods of Rome over much 
of her empire were on a par with the fiscal methods which we 
are accustomed to associate with Turkish rule. 

Thus such members of the middle class as survived the 
institution of slavery, were ruined by fiscal extortion. In the 
early days of the empire there were many prosperous pro- 
vincial towns. Local government and imperial government 
prospered side by side. But the nobles who owned the huge 
slave plantations evaded taxation, and the pauperised lowest 
class had nothing to give. Taxation therefore fell in great 
measure on the towns. The small remnant of industry that 
was left in Italy had to support the burden of local taxation, 
the burden of imperial taxation, and the hundreds of thousands 
of idle ruffians whom Rome fed on doles. The result was 
lamentable. Trading at a profit became impossible, the towns 
fell to pieces, grass grew in the streets. To accept municipal 
office meant ruin. If a man tried to evade his military duties 


he was made a town councillor, and became responsible for the 
taxes. It was the worst penalty that could be inflicted. Guizot 
has said that the destruction of the middle class by fiscal oppres- 
sion was of all causes the most powerful in ruining Rome. 
Certainly the destruction of the middle class was infinitely 
powerful. When Italy ceased to produce defenders there was 
no longer any hope. 

But we must remember that the abnormal development of 
slavery ^vith its attendant evils, the spread of immorality, the 
pauperisation of the proletariat, the oppression of the fiscus 
and the destruction of the middle class had but one origin. 
All Rome's troubles came upon her through lust of empire, 
which is only another name for greed of gain. Nor were these 
troubles the fruit of any one reign or even of any one century. 
They came to be in the very nature of things. When Rome 
emerged from the second Punic war nearly two centuries be- 
fore the Christian era she had already taken the wrong turn- 
ing. A hundred and fifty years later, when Julius Caesar was 
carrying her eagles triumphantly over Gaul, she was on the 
broad road that leads to destruction. From that road the 
empire never made any effort to emerge and every " glorious 
victory " and every added conquest made her ultimate destruc- 
tion more certain. 

Some eminent historians have attributed the fall of the 
empire in some degree to the rise of Christianity. We ques- 
tion if this was even a remote cause. Christianity did far 
more to bind than disintegrate. On more than one occasion 
it helped to save the State ; it never injured it in any way. 



453. When Attila was dead and his Hunnish Empire had fallen to 
pieces the Ostrogoths recovered their independence. This 
important branch of the Teutonic family of nations had tra- 
velled from East Germany to the districts lying between the 
Danube and the Don, where they had settled, ruled by kings 
of their royal house of Amal. During the ascendency of 
Attila their fighting men joined his army, and their kings 
reigned as his vassals. 

After Attila's death three brothers, princes of the royal 
house, named Walamir, Theodemir and Widemir, ruled the 
nation between them, Walamir, the eldest, being the king. 
They entered into relations with Valentinian III. and settled 
on lands in Pannonia, with the promise of gifts from Constan- 

454. tinople in return for living a peaceful Hfe. About this time 
Theodemir had a son whom he named Theodoric and who be- 
came known to history as Theodoric the Great. He was 
worthy of the name, for he was the greatest ruler that the 
Gothic nation produced. 

When Theodoric was a boy of seven the subsidies from 
Constantinople fell into arrear and the Goths ravaged Moesia. 
They were pacified however, and entered into a treaty, the 
boy Theodoric being sent to Constantinople as a surety for its 
due observance. At the Eastern capital Theodoric remained 
for ten years. The emperor, Leo I., was very fond of him, 
and he was kindly treated. He learned field sports and war- 
like exercises, and mingled with men of affairs. But his 
literary attainments were not great, for when he became a 
king he had to use a stencil-plate in order to sign his name, 



The Ostrogoths had many wars with the surrounding 470. 
nations, and in one of these Walamir, the eldest brother, was 
killed, Theodemir, the father of Theodoric, then became king, 
and the youth, now seventeen years of age, returned home. 
Scarcely had he returned home when he distinguished himself 
by making an excursion against the Sarmatians in which he 
was victorious, capturing Singidunum (Belgrade), their capital. 

Finding Pannonia too strait a place for their nation, Theo- 
demir and Widemir determined to divide forces and enter the 
empire, Widemir trying his fortune in the West and Theo- 
demir in the East. 

Accordingly Widemir invaded Italy, but he died whilst on 473. 
the march, and Glycerins who then ruled persuaded his son 
and successor to cross Italy peaceably and enter Gaul. There 
he made aUiance with the Visigoths, and his people settled 
down under their king. 

Theodemir marched south until he reached Thessalonica, 
wliich he besieged. Negotiations were opened with him by 
the court at Constantinople, and he obtained a settlement for 
his people near Thessalonica. Thus half the Ostrogoths settled 
in Gaul, the other half in the East. Immediately after these 
events Theodemir died, and Theodoric became king. 

When Leo I. died, the year in which Theodoric succeeded 474. 
to the kingship of the Goths, he bequeathed the Western Empire 
to his grandson Leo II. As Leo 11. was only five years old 
his father Zeno acted as regent, and when the boy died Zeno 
became emperor. A revolt headed by Basiliscus, the general 
who showed such incompetence in Africa, drove him from the 
throne, and BasiHscus reigned for two years. Then he also was 
defeated and exiled to Cappadocia, where he perished. 

Theodoric had helped Zeno against Basiliscus, but Zeno 
showed little gratitude. Theodoric had a rival, a prince of 
the same name, and Zeno played off the one against the other. 
The rival, however, was accidentally killed, and Theodoric was 
left undisputed king of the Ostrogoths. 

For some years Theodoric conducted marauding expeditions 


throughout Macedonia, Thessaly and Thrace ; chiefly, it would 
seem, seeking food for his people. At last he determined to 
find more fertile lands and proposed to invade Italy. Odo- 
vacar ruled there, acknowledging Zeno as suzerain, but they 
were not friendly and Zeno did not object to Theodoric taking 
Odovacar's place if he could win it. In any case he was glad 
to get rid of him. 

488. Theodoric accordingly set out for Italy, accompanied by his 
whole following, in all, about a quarter of a milhon, of whom 
50,000 carried arms. On their way they were attacked by the 
Gepidee, but they fought their way through them, and then, 
having crossed the Julian Alps, descended into Italy. 

489. At the river Isonzo Odovacar disputed the passage of the 
Goths, but Theodoric defeated him, and at Verona, a month 
later, was again victorious. Odovacar fled to Ravenna and 
Theodoric entered Milan in triumph. The siege of Ravenna 
was entrusted to Tufa, a former general of Odovacar, but he 
proved a traitor to Theodoric and his treachery delayed the 
conquest of Italy for about three years. At length, however, 
Ravenna, reduced by famine, capitulated. By the terms of the 
capitulation Odovacar's Hfe was to have been spared, but The- 
odoric slew him with his own hand. Odovacar had mercilessly 
slain some of Theodoric's friends before, nevertheless this 
breach of faith leaves a stain upon the character of Theodoric. 

493. Theodoric reigned over Italy after the death of Odovacar 

for thirty-three years. The position was not an easy one, for 
he had to satisfy both Roman and Gothic subjects. But he 
did his work splendidly. By birth a Goth, he had spent many 
years amongst Romane and he understood their ways. It was 
long since Italy had known such a time of happiness. There 
was peace within her borders and she enjoyed an amount of 
prosperity to which she had been unaccustomed for centuries. 
The Goths were armed and the Romans did not carry arms. 
But they suffered no detriment, for it was understood that the 
Goth was the soldier and that he carried arms not to attack 
but to defend his Roman compatriot. 


In the task of government Theodoric had the benefit of the 
services of two able ministers. For the first seven years of liis 
reign Liberius was his right-hand, and afterwards Cassiodorus. 
With their help the various departments of the government 
were placed upon an excellent basis. 

Finance was so reformed that a treasury found bankrupt 
was without oppression replenished. Taxes were hghtened 
and their incidence made more equitable. Public works of 
importance were taken in hand. The Pontine Marshes were 
drained, harbours were constructed, the city walls were re- 
paired. Public buildings were restored, the Appian Way and 
many other roads were repaired. Bricks have been found 
stamped with the name of Theodoric. 

A royal commission with Liberius as president appor- 
tioned lands to the Goths and managed matters so tactfully 
that the settlement was efiected to the satisfaction of Roman 
and Goth alike. 

Most important of all, agriculture began again to flourish, 
and Italy, formerly dependent upon Africa for food, now ac- 
tually herself exported grain. 

Theodoric dwelt chiefly at Ravenna, but sometimes at 
Verona and Pavia. He visited Rome and was well received. 
During liis reign Theodoric was recognised as head of the 
Teutonic race, not only in Italy but throughout much of 
Europe. This position he consoHdated by matrimonial alliances 
with the various royal families of the barbarians. He was 
brother-in-law of the king of the Franks and of the king of 
the Vandals, and the king of the Visigoths and the crown 
prince of the Burgundians were married to his daughters. 
His niece was married to the king of the Thuringians. Thus 
Theodoric was a kind of patriarch amongst the barbarian royal- 
ties, and his influence promoted the peace and happiness of 

Theodoric promulgated an authoritative exposition of 
Roman law known as the Edictum Theodorici. This edict, of 
which Liberius may have been compiler, is said to have been 


published in order to keep intact reverence for public right, and 
to ensure that laws might be known and observed by all. The 
edict had 154 sections, and covers a great variety of subjects. 
It is interesting to know that Alaric II., king of the Visigoths 
who reigned from 485 to 507, published a collection which is 
sometimes called Lex Romana Visigothorum, and sometimes, 
from the name of the king, Breviarium Alaricianum. Alaric 
was son-in-law to Theodoric, and the edicts seem to have been 
pubUshed about the same time, the one in Italy the other in 

With regard to rehgious affairs Theodoric was in a delicate 
position. He was an Arian, like most of the Goths, whilst the 
inhabitants of Italy mostly belonged to the Catholic Church. 
Theodoric solved the difficulty by allowing the fullest religious 
freedom, and ruled so justly that the orthodox, equally with the 
Arians, loudly praised his fairness and moderation. " We can- 
not command the religion of our subjects," he said, " since no 
one can be forced to beheve against his will." 

Theodoric's spirit of impartiality was extended to men of 
every faith. When there were anti-Jewish riots in Ravenna, 
Milan and Rome, and synagogues were burned, Theodoric 
ordered their restoration and severely punished the rioters. 
As a result the Jews were unswervingly loyal to the Gothic 
rule in Italy. 

Theodoric's impartiahty gave him great moral influence, 
and when there was division among the Cathohcs and two 
popes were elected by rival sections of the Church, Theodoric 
was asked to arbitrate between them. 

There was Uttle of the barbarian about Theodoric. Though 
his literary education may have been neglected, he was cultured 
in his own way, and governed with much astuteness. He 
never forgot that he was king both of the Romans and the 
Goths, and that each had to be ruled by their own laws. Had 
time been given, the Goths, influenced by their surroundings, 
would have blended with the Italian people, and the population 
of Italy would have been compounded of Roman and Teutonic 


elements. This amalgamation took place in Gaul, and also in 
Spain, but not in Italy, because, as we shall presently see, 
Justinian undid all that Theodoric had so patiently done. 

Quite early in Theodoric's reign he showed his large-hearted- 
ness in a striking way. The Burgundians had made serious 
raids into Liguria and had carried away many captives, who 
were now living amongst them as slaves. Theodoric asked 
Epiphanius, an eminent bishop, to cross to Burgundy as his 
ambassador to Gundobad, the ruler there, and to ransom as 
many captives as he could. Epiphanius, an old man, departed 
on his mission with great gladness, not even waiting until 
winter had passed away. Gundobad received liim with much 
kindness. All the captives under his own control he released 
at once and without pajonent. Those in the hands of his sub- 
jects were released on moderate terms, Epiphanius brought 
back 6,000 persons, and Theodoric settled them in their old 
homes and helped them to restock their farms. Tliis one inci- 
dent, differing so greatly from the usual custom of that time, 
stamps Theodoric as a great and good man. 

In his later years Theodoric had sore trouble. Roman in- 
fluence was strong at court, for the king had chosen the best 
men as officials whether they were Goths or Romans, Arians 
or Catholics. Now Theodoric had no son to succeed him, and 
the heir presumptive was a grandson, a mere child. The 
Romans thought that when he died there would be a chance 
of getting back their supremacy, and they corresponded behind 
his back with the court at Constantinople about the succession. 

When Theodoric learned what was going on he was greatly 
exasperated, and he determined to make an example. Accord- 
ingly Bcfithius, a very eminent man, was tried, condemned and 523. 
executed. The trial was conducted by the Senate, and Theodoric 
was not to blame, though Boethius was probably a mere scape- 
goat. Unfortunately Theodoric went further and committed a 
crime for which there can be no excuse. Symmachus was father- 
in-law of Boethius, and a worthy man against whom no charge 
of treason had been laid. But Theodoric, fearing apparently that 


he would be disaffected because of his son-in-law's execution, 
ordered that Symmachus should be slain also. The crime was 
no sooner committed than it was bitterly repented of, and it 
caused Theodoric much remorse when on his deathbed. 

Another unfortunate incident happened. Justin I. now 
sat on the throne at Constantinople, a narrow-minded man, 
but orthodox. He persecuted Arians unmercifully, and Theo- 
doric who had reigned for tliirty years in Italy without per- 
secuting CathoHcs thought he had a right to complain. 

When no notice was taken of his complaints, Theodoric 
sent Pope John, bishop of Rome, to Constantinople, to remon- 
strate and, if necessary, to threaten. He could not have chosen 
a worse messenger, for John, himself a CathoKc, was also a 
narrow-minded man, who looked indulgently on the persecu- 
tion, and was not over loyal to Theodoric 

John was received at Constantinople with great pomp, Jus- 
tin, the emperor, going some miles to meet him, and prostrat- 
ing himself in his presence. Theodoric saw that all this was 
merely a demonstration against himself, and considered that 
John, by accepting the favours which were showered upon him, 
compromised his position as an ambassador. Accordingly when 
526. he returned to Ravenna Theodoric threw him into prison, and 
as he was in feeble health he died in confinement. Theodoric 
acted as most kings would have done, but the death of a bishop 
in prison turned a very commonplace man into a martyr. 

The same year Theodoric himself died. On his deathbed 
he bewailed the deaths of Boethius and Symmachus who were 
both good men. Yet the historian says it was " the first and 
last act of injustice which he had committed against any of liis 
subjects: and the cause of it was that he had not sufficiently 
examined into the proofs, before he pronounced judgment upon 
these men ". 

Theodoric deserves a high place in history. He ruled Italy 
for more than thirty years under trying circumstances with 
even-handed justice. Few of the earth's monarchs have been 
of greater merit. Had the pohcy of Theodoric been continued, 


in another generation Goths and Italians would have mingled 
beyond the possibility of separation. Unfortunately Justinian, 
the emperor of the East, must needs interfere in the name of 
a hollow and worthless suzerainty, and by his armies Italy was 
once more rent asunder. Once more the Goths became an 
armed host in an alien land, and, lacking leadership and the 
old warlike aptitude, they were driven from the peninsula, 
leaving scarcely a trace upon Itahan soil. With their great 
king the nation also passed away. 

Theodoric was buried in Ravenna in the magnificent tomb 
wliich still stands bearing his name. It is of white marble, in 
two storeys, and is crowned with a monolith of enormous 
weight. But the body is no longer there. It is said that it 
was stolen by the priests and buried elsewhere to give currency 
to a fable that the great Arian monarch liad been carried away 
by the devil. 

About half a century ago navvies engaged in dock works 
in the neighbourhood found a skeleton in golden armour with 
a sword by its side. The armour was broken up and divided 
amongst them, but pieces were afterwards recovered, and they 
are in a museum. There is reason to believe that the remains 
were those of Theodoric. 

, Theodoric had several children by concubines, but by his 
royal wife only one daughter, Amalasuntha. This lady married 
Eutharic, a lineal descendant of the great Hermanric, so that 
their son Athalaric was of royal Gothic lineage on both sides. 
Had Eutharic survived Theodoric he would have been king, 
but he died before him. When, therefore, Theodoric liimself 
lay dying he commended Athalaric, his grandson, to the Gothic 
nobles, asking them to be loyal to their new sovereign, and 
begging them to be kind to the Italians among whom they 
dwelt. As Athalaric was only ten years of age his mother, 
Amalasuntha, became regent, Cassiodorus, so long the trusted 
minister of Theodoric, remaining first minister of the crown. 

Amalasuntha was a woman of liigh intellectual gifts, but 526. 
without tact, and having no sympathy with tlie Gothic people. 


She was cultured, she could speak Greek, Latin and Gothic, 
but all her sympathies were Roman ; the rough, honest, brave 
but uncultured Goth had no place in her affections. As a 
result there were frequent disputes, tyranny on her side, covert 
rebellion on theirs. 

The bad feeling between the regent and her Gothic nobles 
led her to correspond privately with Justinian, now emperor 
at Constantinople. From him she got much sympathy, and 
he offered her a refuge in case she had to fly. But the unfor- 
tunate woman was really acting the part of a traitor, and she 
did infinite and irreparable mischief to her people. 

In his very last years Theodoric had quarrelled with the 
Vandals in Africa about their treatment of his sister Amala- 
frida. He had threatened war and they had threatened 
reprisals. Amalasuntha carried on the quarrel, and though it 
passed there was bad feeling between the courts at Ravenna 
and at Carthage. 

531. When Amalasuntha had been regent for five years a 

serious quarrel arose between Gelimer, king of the Vandals, 
and Justinian, and the latter fitted out an expedition for the 
conquest of North Africa. Partly because she hated the 
Vandals, partly because of her pro-Roman sympathies, Amala- 
suntha placed Sicily at the disposal of Justinian's general, 
Behsarius, for re-fitting and re-victualling his fleet. It was a 
wicked thing to do, and in the end it led to the destruction of 
the Vandal kingdom in North Africa and of the Gothic 
kingdom in Italy. 

534. Behsarius was entirely successful in Africa. The Vandals 

were taken by surprise and utterly defeated. Carthage was 
captured, and Gehmer, the Vandal king, was carried in 
triumph to Constantinople. 

The Goths in Italy soon saw the mistake that had been 
made in allowing the Vandal monarchy to be thus crushed, and 
relations between the Gothic nobles and the regent became 
very strained. Justinian offered to protect her, and prepared 
a palace for her reception at Dyrrhachium. Amalasuntha 


went so far as to embark the wliole of the national treasure. 
Before she set sail she gave orders' that three Gothic chiefs 
should be assassinated. Her orders were carried out, and she 
was so elated at her success that she determined to remain. 

At this juncture Justinian sent an embassy demanding the 
surrender of Lilybreum, a port in Sicily, which had been for- 
merly part of the North African province. Amalasuntha pre- 
tended to refuse his demand, but secretly offered to surrender 
the whole of Italy to him. 

Athalaric died, and Amalasuntha, eager to keep power, 
asked Theodahad, a nephew of Theodoric, to share the crown 
with her. He agreed, but almost at once turned upon her. 
She was seized, imprisoned and murdered. Amalasuntha was 
a woman of great gifts, but few women have done more mis- 535. 
chief than she, and there is no need that we should sympathise 
with her over much. 

Theodahad now ruled in Italy. Had he been a good man 
he might even yet have pulled things together. Unfortu- 
nately, as we shall see in a subsequent chapter, he was a worth- 
less fellow. 

VOL. II. 23 



Our last chapters have dealt for the most part with the affairs 
of the Western Empire. We shall now turn our attention to 
the East. 

It will be remembered that on the death of Theodosius his 
sons, Arcadius and Honorius, succeeded, the former ruling in 
Constantinople, the latter in Italy. With the reign of Hono- 
rius we have already sufficiently dealt. 

Arcadius. — Arcadius, the elder son of Theodosius, was 

born in Spain and educated in Constantinople. He became 

395, emperor of the East on the death of his father, and at the age 

of eighteen. Rufinus was his chief minister, but we have seen 

in a former chapter how he was murdered. 

After the death of Rufinus the power at Constantinople 
fell into the hands of Eudoxia, the empress, Eutropius, chief 
officer of state, and Gainas, commander of the forces, who had 
been the chief instrument in the murder of Rufinus. 

At this time Alaric the Goth was devastating Macedonia, 

and Stilicho had taken the field against him. But the court 

at Constantinople had no favour for Stilicho and resented his 

interference. They dreaded him quite as much as they did 

Alaric, so they came to terms with the latter. Perhaps there 

was an understanding that he should leave the Eastern Empire 

alone and turn his attention to the Western, it is not easy 

397. otherwise to account for the fact that he was made master of 

the forces in Illyricum. At all events he spent five years in 

that position, training his forces and preparing for the invasion 

of Italy. 



During this reign John Chrysostom was bishop of Con- 
stantinople. He owed liis position to Eutropius chiefly, but 
there was little in common between the men. Eutropius be- 
came unpopular, and would have been slain but that Chrysos- 
tom gave him sanctuary. He escaped in disguise from the 
city, but was taken and beheaded. 

Gainas now became chief minister. He was a Goth and an 
Arian, and he tried to obtain freedom of worship for his 
countrymen in Constantinople. But the influence of Chrysos- 
tom was too strong for him. Exasperated by this and by other 
matters that transpired, Gainas rebelled and fled from the city. 
He took up arms, but was defeated and driven beyond the 
Danube. There the Huns captured him, and their king sent 
his head as an offering to Arcadius. 

Eudoxia was now all-powerful in Constantinople. We have 400. 
in a former chapter dealt with the quarrels between her and 
Chrysostom, quarrels which ended in the banishment of the 
sincere but tactless bishop. 

Arcadius professed the orthodox faith, and with the hearty 
assistance of Chrysostom persecuted the Arians unmercifully, 
confiscating their churches. At length Arcadius died, leaving 
one son, Theodosius, and several daughters, of whom Pulcheria 
is best known to fame. 

Theodosius II. — Theodosius, the only son of Arcadius, was 408. 
but eight years of age when his father died. Anthemius, 
grandfather of one who ultimately became for a time emperor 
of the West, assumed the position of guardian of the young 
emperor, Anthemius discharged his duty faithfully. During 
his guardianship great walls were built in order to better fortify 

After a few years Pulcheria, sister of the emperor, became 414. 
regent, with the title of Augusta. She was an excellent 
woman, with strong religious convictions of the ascetic order, 
and her brother followed on the same lines. He was a good 
man, but narrow, and severe against those whom he was 


pleased to consider heretics. He enacted a law forbidding 
marriage with a deceased wife's sister. The marriage was de- 
clared incest, the children bastards. 
421. Theodosius married Athenais, a heathen lady who embraced 

Christianity before the marriage, and was baptised as a Chris- 
tian with the name of Eudocia. They had a daughter Eudoxia, 
who in 437 married her second cousin Valentinian III., emperor 
of the West. 

Theodosius deserves high credit for two most important 
acts, the foundation of a university at Constantinople and the 
publication of the code which bears his name. 

The university was meant to further the cause of Christi- 
anity by superseding to some extent the university of Athens, 
long famous as a stronghold of paganism. Theodosius pre- 
ferred not to attack the university of Athens directly, and in 
this he was wise. We shall find that a century later his great 
successor Justinian was not so scrupulous. In the university 
at Constantinople the schools of philosophy and law were 
specially prominent. 

The Theodosian code was issued under the joint authority 
of Theodosius II., the emperor of the East, and Valentinian 
III., the emperor of the West. It was an elaborate collection 
of constitutions issued from the days of Constantine down- 
wards. It was drawn up by a Royal Commission, of which 
the most important member was Antiochus, the Praetorian 
prefect and chief law adviser to the emperor. This code was 
used freely by Justinian's legal advisers when they compiled 
under his patronage the immensely important work which is 
associated with his name. The Theodosian code established 
for a time uniformity of law in the Eastern and Western 

We followed in a former chapter the fortunes of Placidia, 
the daughter of Theodosius I. and aunt of Theodosius II. We 
saw how she first married Adolphus, the Gothic king, and 
after his death married Constantius, Honorius' commander- 
in-chief. When he also died Placidia found that residence 


with her brother Honorius was unpleasant, and took refuge 
with Theodosius II., her nephew, at Constantinople. When 
Honorius ched a usurper seized the throne, and Theodosius 423. 
sent an army which defeated him and established Placidia's 
son, Valentinian III., in his place. 

Whilst Valentinian III. was still young, Gaiseric invaded 
Africa at the head of his Vandal host, and Placicha, at her wits' 
end, besought the help of Theodosius. An expedition was 
sent under Aspar, a leachng senator, but it was defeated. In 
this expedition one Marcian served. He was made a prisoner, 
but was afterwards released and allowed to return to Constan- 

During the last years of Theodosius II. his dominions were 
harassed by Attila, whose ravages began in 441 and continued 
for six years. In 447 the Huns even approached Constanti- 
nople, and Theodosius, who was not a warlike man, had to 
make peace by paying a sum of money and relinquishing a 
belt of territory. 

After reigning for forty-two years, the emperor was killed 
by a fall from his horse. 

Marcian. — On the death of Theodosius II., Pulcheria, his 450. 
elder sister, who had the dignity of empress and upon wliom 
had fallen much of the detail of government, married Marcian, 
the distinguished officer above mentioned. Marcian proved 
an excellent colleague. He was a man of resolution and 
courage. When Attila, as he was wont, sent a peremptory 
demand for money he found that he no longer had Theodosius 
to deal with. Marcian firmly refused to pay any more tribute, 
and though Attila was enraged he thought it wiser to expend 
his wrath upon the Western Empire. 

The death of Attila and the dissolution of his Hunnish 453. 
Empire relieved both East and West of intolerable anxiety. 
The Ostrogoths, having first broken the power of the Huns, 
now began to press forward and to fill up the empty places in 
the empire. 


454. After tlie death of Piilcheria, Marcian continued to reign 

with undiminished popularity. At this time the Western Em- 
pire was passing through much bitter experience, ^tius had 
been murdered by Valentinian III,, then the emperor himself 
had fallen, and Gaiseric, king of the Vandals, benefiting by 
the confusion, had sacked Rome and carried thousands of her 
citizens into captivity. 

Two years after these events Marcian died. He had proved 
an honest and wise ruler, and had maintained peace in the 
Eastern Empire at a time when the very foundations of 
Europe were being shaken, 

Leo I. — The death of the empress Pulcheria, followed a few 
years later by that of Marcian, brought the Theodosian dynasty 
to an end. The choice of a new emperor was left to the army, 
and Leo, a native of Dacia, a man without literary education 
but with plenty of sense, was chosen. He was crowned by 
AnatoHus, bishop of Constantinople ; an early instance, if not 
the first, of a Christian sovereign receiving the crown from the 
hands of a priest. In time the practice became general, and 
upon it the clergy soon based preposterous claims. 

465. During the reign of Leo there was a great fire in Constan- 

tinople, It lasted four days and destroyed a wide area. Some 
of the best houses in the city were burned down and many 
public buikhngs, 

Ricimer, the king-maker, was now at the height of liis 
power in Italy. Anxious to crush the Vandals in Africa, he 
proposed a joint expedition, and Leo I. consented on condition 
that Ricimer accepted his nominee, Authemius, as emperor of 
the West. Anthemius had married the daughter of Marcian, and 
was the grandson of that Anthemius, already mentioned, who 
guided the empire during the youth of Pulcheria and Theodosius. 
Ricimer accepted the condition and Anthemius was 

468. crowned. But the expedition against the Vandals was grossly 
mismanaged and failed miserably, after which Ricimer drove 
Anthemius from the throne. 


The failure of the expedition caused bitter disappointment 
in Constantinople. The common cry of treachery was raised, 
and some leading men fell victims to the popular fury. But 
the expedition failed not through treachery, but through the 
incompetence of Basiliscus its commander, who obtained his 
appointment because he was brother-in-law to the emperor. 

During the reign of Leo, Theodoric, a boy of seven, son of 
Theodemir, a Gothic prince, was sent to Constantinople as a 
hostage. Leo took a fancy to him and treated him well. 
When Theodoric was seventeen he returned to his people. 
His residence in Constantinople gave him an insight into 
Roman ways which nothing else could have done, and must 
have helped liim greatly when as emperor in Italy he had 
to govern both Roman and Goth. 

During Leo's reign heavy afflictions befell the empire. 
Antioch was visited by a severe earthquake, and over many 
parts of the empire inundations destroyed much property. 
There was an eruption of Vesuvius and ashes are said to have 
fallen in Constantinople. The fire in the capital itself we have 
mentioned above. 

Leo's reign lasted for seventeen years, and he ruled wisely. 

Leo II. — On his death-bed Leo I. nominated his grand- 
son as his successor. He was but four years old, the son of 
Ariadne, Leo's daughter, and Zeno, her husband, an Isaurian. 
Zeno at once assumed control, and when, a few months after, 
the cliild died, Zeno was proclaimed emperor. 

Zeno. — Isaurians, mountaineers from the Taurus, many of 474. 
whom were in the army, were not popular in Constantinople, 
and the reign of Zeno was not cordially welcomed. Scarcely was 
he seated upon the throne when the dowager-empress, Verina, 
intrigued for his overthrow. Zeno had to fly to Isauria, and 
BasiUscus, the brother of Verina, and the man who had failed 475. 
so lamentably in the expedition against the Vandals, seized the 
throne. But the government of Basiliscus became extremely 


unpopular. Taxation was heavy, and the emperor did not 
satisfy the clergy. There was during his short reign another 
terrible conflagration in Constantinople. The destruction of 
property was enormous, and, worst of all, the Basilike Kbrary, 
founded by the emperor Julian, and containing more than 
100,000 volumes, was destroyed. Many of the volumes were 
of priceless value, and the loss was irreparable. At length 
Basiliscus had so few friends that Zeno marched on Constanti- 
477. nople and entered it without opposition. His rival was deposed 
and banished to Phrygia, where he and his family were im- 
mured and allowed to die of hunger. 

Zeno had been helped in his war against Basiliscus by 
Theodoric, but he showed him little gratitude. For a time he 
played ofl" against him a dangerous rival, Theodoric Triarius. 
But the latter was killed accidentally, and Zeno then made 
peace with Theodoric, the son of Theodemir. Shortly after 
Zeno encouraged him in his determination to invade Italy and 
displace Odovacar who had made himself objectionable to them 
both. Chiefly, however, Zeno was glad to see the Eastern Em- 
pire relieved of the presence of the Ostrogothic nation. Before 
the conquest of Italy was completed by Theodoric Zeno had 

491. Anastasius. — On the death of Zeno, through the influence 

of his widow Ariadne, Anastasius, a popular oflScer of the house- 
hold, was chosen emperor. A few weeks later he consolidated 
his position by marrying her. Anastasius was well educated 
and intelligent, worthy of his high position. 

During the first years of the new reign there were several 
revolts. The Isaurians were not satisfied to lose the influence 
which they had enjoyed under the former monarch. The dis- 
turbances began in the capital where there was much street 
fighting. Unfortunately, also, there were further conflagrations 
and much of the city was destroyed. 

An Isaurian war followed and lasted for five years. The 
Isaurians were a stout-hearted, mountaineering race, and their 


homes in the Taurus were inaccessible so that they were not 
easily subdued. 

The Isaurian war was followed by one with Kobad, king of 502. 
Persia. There had been peace with Persia for more than half 
a century, but it was now broken. The war lasted for three 
years, and the Romans lost on the whole. But Kobad had 
other enemies and he was glad to make peace, accepting the 
payment of an indemnity from Anastasius. 

The withdrawal of the Ostrogoths from Thrace and Illyri- 
cum had left land unoccupied, and the northern tribes, tlie 
Slavs and the Bulgarians, began to flock in. Lest they might 
come too far, Anastasius built a fortified wall across the isthmus 
to defend the capital. It was fifty miles long, it isolated 
Constantinople, and served as a valuable defence to it for many 
centuries. Parts of it still stand. 

Anastasius was provident and economical, and though men 
called him parsimonious, the empire stood sorely in need of a 
ruler of his sort. He reformed the finance, commuted tithes, 
and abolished taxes which were specially oppressive. Leo's 
unsuccessful expedition against the Vandals had emptied the 
treasury, and Zeno had done little to improve matters. But 
Anastasius gave the strictest personal attention to finance. 
Thus he was able to carry out important works, to reduce 
taxation, and to leave a well-filled treasury when he died. 

Anastasius was the first sovereign against whom sentence 
of excommunication was uttered. He was heterodox, and had 
the courage of his opinions. Tliis did not please the priest- 
hood, they fomented rebellion, and he retaliated by banishing 
some of the bishops. A bull of excommunication was accord- 
ingly issued by Symmachus, bishop of Rome. 

The emperor was not naturally a persecutor, but in his 
declining years he was harassed by meaningless and ferocious 
disputes between the rival factions into which Constantinople 
was divided, and thus was led into acts of harshness and even 
cruelty. He reigned for twenty-seven years, and thed more 
than eighty years of age. He was not a great man, but he 


was a man with noble qualities, sympathetic and generous, 
and his reign was prosperous. 

518, Justin I. — On the death of Anastasius Justin, his trusted 

officer and commander of the guards, was proclaimed emperor. 
He was orthodox, and his appointment gave general satisfac- 
tion. He was a brave and experienced soldier but was un- 
accustomed to civil affairs, and illiterate. Moreover, he was 
nearly seventy years of age. Accordinglj'' he interfered httle 
in matters of civil government, leaving that department to his 
qu8Gstor Proclus, by whom he was faithfully served. 

Shortly after Justin's accession he adopted his nephew 
Uprauda as his colleague and ultimate successor, Uprauda 
took the name of Justinian in honour of his uncle, and became 
one of the most famous of Roman emperors. 

During Justin's reign Theodoric was ruling in Italy, and 
we have already seen how correspondence of a somewhat trait- 
orous character was carried on between his senate at Ravenna 
and Justin's court at Constantinople, We have also seen how 
Justin, who was orthodox, persecuted the Arians in the Eastern 
Empire, whilst Theodoric, who was an Arian, allowed the fullest 
liberty of conscience in the Western. Theodoric remonstrated, 
and Justin's refusal to give the Arians fair play led to much 
ill-feehng. The embassy of Pope John from Theodoric to 
Justin, and all that came out of it, has been already dealt with. 

527. Justinian, the nephew of Justin, was born about 483, as- 

sumed the consulate in 521 and in 527 was created Augustus. 
In the same year, by the death of his uncle, he became sole 



We have now to deal with the reign of a monarch who left an 527. 
indelible mark upon history. Not that he was a truly great 
man. But he was able, versatile, industrious, and clever at 
choosing his servants. He must also have had dignity and 
determination, for he kept his prestige amidst many difficulties 
and never allowed any officer, however great, to undermine his 

Justinian married Theodora, daughter of the keeper of the 
menagerie in Constantinople. The father died, and the widow 
and children were left without means, so Theodora, who was 
exceptionally beautiful and clever, went on the stage. The 
acting profession was considered degrading at that time, and 
an actress was looked upon as a disreputable person. This pre- 
judice has lasted even to our own day, but it was extremely 
strong amongst the Romans. Not that they objected to seeing 
plays acted, their objection was solely to the actor. We must 
accept this with much else that was illogical in the Roman 
moral code. The Romans deemed the gladiator, perhaps a cap- 
tive appointed to die to make a Roman holiday, an iiifamous 
person. Thus did they salve their consciences when they saw 
him weltering in his blood. Romans deemed the eunuch, 
robbed of his manhood in infancy by the brutality of others, 
a very infamous person indeed; and if, in spite of every dis- 
advantage, he struggled into greatness, they deemed all to 
spring from the lowest motives and the most unworthy ambi- 
tion. So also the slave, often enough in birth and breeding 
a better man than his master, was infamous ; and the poor 

actress, struggling in the hardest of professions to earn a crust, 



was the most infamous of all. We must accept this want of 
enlightenment amongst the ancients as we find it, but we need 
not adopt their standard. Yet some modern historians, even 
amongst those accounted great, have done this. By them also 
the gladiator, the slave, the eunuch, the actor are consigned to 
shame and everlasting contempt. Many characters have suf- 
fered in tliis way, none more than Theodora. We dismiss with 
contempt the gross and often palpably ridiculous tales about 
the empress, culled from a wicked and unreliable book called 
the Secret History. Had Theodora been the vile creature 
described, Justinian, who was far from being a fool, must have 
known it well. Yet he married her, not hastily, but with de- 
liberation, having first obtained the repeal of the law which 
forbade that one of senatorial rank should marry an actress. 
He had enough influence also to prevail upon his uncle, Justin 
I., to confer upon her the lofty title of patrician. Moreover, 
he, who thought most highly of the dignity of the imperial 
oflfice, insisted on Theodora being crowned with himself, "an 
equal and independent colleague in the sovereignty of the em- 
pire". Justinian, a man remarkable for self-restraint and 
austerity, joined the name of the empress with his own with 
equal honour in all his pious and charitable foundations ; he 
celebrated her prudence ; he spoke of her as a gift from God ; 
and he remained her devoted husband for a quarter of a cen- 
tury. We prefer to judge Theodora by these incontrovertible 
facts rather than by the wicked tales concerning her wliich 
have passed current for liistory. All that we need say is that 
Justinian married a very beautiful girl of humble parentage, who 
was driven to the stage for a living and became a successful 
actress. After her marriage this lady retained the aftection of 
her husband and filled her exalted position with dignity. She 
was extremely benevolent ; she cared for orphans, emancipated 
slaves, and, mindful of the temptations which had surrounded 
her own girlhood, she built the first institution for the reclama- 
tion of fallen women known in Christendom. 

Justinian earned his title to immortality by codifying 


Roman law. Roman law consisted mainly of two elements, 
the decrees or constitutions of the emperors and the opinions 
of eminent jurists. There was a mass of literature on the sub- 
ject, and previous attempts had been made at codification, but 
much remained to be done. In the first half of his rei^n, 
aided by Tribonian and the best lawyers available, Justinian 
gathered the law together in a great work called the Corpus 
Juris Givilis. This is in three parts, the Code, the Digest or 
Pandects, and the Institutes. In the Code, the decrees or con- 
stitutions of the emperors are carefully collected, such as are 
obsolete being omitted. In the Digest, the decisions of the 
most important lawyers of the past are edited and arranged. 
The Institutes, based in great measure upon an earlier work 
by Gains, form a commentary on the principles of Roman law. 
The whole of the work is done in so practical and efficient a way 
that after thirteen centuries the Corpus Juris Civilis stands 
unsurpassed as a treasury of legal knowledge and a whetstone 
for the legal mind. 

As an administrator, Justinian left much to be desired. 
Anastasius had left a full treasury, Justinian left it empty. 
His people at home and abroad were ruined by taxation. 
Misery abounded and insurrections were frequent throughout 
his reign. Some part of the financial strain was the result of 
Justinian's passion for buUding. In tliis he was indefatigable. 
Not merely in Constantinople but all over the empire, no 
matter with what difficulty money was obtained, and no matter 
how greatly it might be needed elsewhere, Justinian's mania 
for building must be satisfied. New towns, new churches, 
aqueducts, bridges, fortifications, baths, palaces sprang up on 
all sides. Some of the work added to the prosperity of the 
empire, but much was vain show. The building of St. Sophia, 
now a mosque, cost a fabulous sum, and although it might 
have been justifiable had Justinian been wealthy, it was un- 
justifiable in an empire which was becoming poorer every day. 

Though Justinian's expenditure upon public works was 
lavish, it was by foreign war that the people were cliiefly bled. 


Had he remained at peace the rest might have been borne. 
But he tried to reconstruct the Roman Empire. The countries 
which had formed the empire were at peace. In Africa, where 
the Vandals ruled, population was increasing and the people 
were prosperous. Sicily, though nominally under the rule of 
the Goths, was practically independent and quite content. In 
Italy, where Theodoric had ruled with much wisdom, and 
where his daughter Amalasuntha was now ruling, taxation 
was Hght, agriculture was thriving, and Roman and Goth were 
slowly welding together. But Justinian was not content to let 
well alone. He must needs play the grand monarch. In 
Belisarius and Narses he found generals capable of carrying 
out his warlike schemes, and he was encouraged in them by 
priests eager to spread orthodoxy even by the sword. So on 
one pretext or another Justinian sent forth liis armies, until 
Africa was a desert, Italy was depopulated, and his own home 
provinces were bloodless, breathless and miserable. Yea, even 
when he was so beset at home that he could scarcely protect 
his own capital, and barbarian raiders were snatching his 
subjects into captivity from before his very eyes, he was 
sending his armaments to Africa, Italy and Spain, eager 
to extend an empire which he could neither defend nor 

528. Justinian inherited a feud with Kobad, king of Persia, and 

hostilities broke out the year after his accession. Next year 
BeHsarius, then a young man, was made general of the army 
in the East. He defeated the Persians in the great battle of 

530. Daras. Next year Kobad died, and was succeeded by his son 
Chosroes I., who carried on the war. 

It is probable that at a very early period in his reign Jus- 
tinian set liis heart upon the destruction of the Teutonic king- 
doms and the reunion of the Roman Empire. He was young, 
he had a good army, a brilHant general, and great store of 
treasure. The Teutonic kingdoms were weak and divided. 
Justinian's orthodox soul, moreover; was vexed by the fact that 
the Teutons were Arians, and the orthodox clergy, who had 


mucli influence at his court, assured him that the triumph of 
his arms would be the triumph of true rehgion. 

Justinian determined to begin his attack on the Teutons by 
crushing the Vandals in Africa. For this he required the ser- 
vices of liis great general, so he ordered him to bring the 
Persian war to a conclusion and return to Constantinople, 
Behsarius accordingly arranged a treaty with Chosroes and 

Whilst Belisarius was in Constantinople serious riots 532. 
occurred. The citizens were divided into factions, taking 
opposite views upon political and religious questions. Party 
feehng ran high, and every public assembly was made an 
occasion of rioting and bloodshed. Generally speaking one of 
the two great factions, the blues and the greens, enjoyed 
imperial favour and sided with the court. But the severity of 
the taxes alienated all parties and riots broke out which 
amounted to a revolution. The streets were thronged with the 
populace, many buildings were set on fire, and blood flowed 

So serious was the aspect of affairs in Constantinople that 
Justinian's ministers counselled flight. But the empress would 
not hear of it and her advice was followed. Belisarius and 
Narses laid plans for crusliing the revolution, and it was 
crushed, but not until thirty thousand had been slain. 

Constantinople was now at peace, and Justinian proceeded 
with his schemes of conquest. There was much opposition to 
his African expedition. John of Cappadocia, the finance min- 
ister, and as such the most unpopular man at court, tried 
to dissuade the emperor from the enterprise. For a time he 
hesitated, but ambition, orthodoxy and apparently in-bred 
hatred of the Teutonic race carried the day. 

An armament sailed from Constantinople to Sicily. The 533. 
island was under Gothic rule and should have sympathised 
with the Vandals. But Amalasuntha, the Gothic queen, was 
pro-Roman in her sympathies. She had been in correspond- 
ence with Justinian, and she had a grudge against the Vandals. 


Accordingly she gave Belisarius every facility for provisioning 
and refitting his expedition in her island. It was a pity, for 
in thus furthering the destruction of the Vandals, she de- 
stroyed her own people. 

Belisarius crossed from Sicily, and landed his troops a 
hundred and thirty miles west of Carthage. The Vandals 
were wholly unprepared. Gelimer, their king, was in Numi- 
dia; his brother with the flower of the Vandal army was 
in Sardinia. 

As Belisarius marched on the city of Carthage he kept his 
troops well in hand and paid for all supplies. This moderation 
pleased the people, and as the CathoHc clergy and men of 
Roman nationality sympathised with him, his march was for a 
time unopposed. Ten miles from Carthage he was attacked by 
Gelimer, whose forces he routed. When the Vandal army 
returned from Sardinia the brothers again tried their fortune, 

534. but in the battle of Tricamaron they were finally overthrown. 
Gelimer surrendered, and graced the triumph accorded to 
Behsarius at Constantinople. Justinian treated liim kindly 
and gave him an estate in Asia. Amongst the spoils were the 
golden vessels from the temple of Jerusalem. They had been 
taken to Rome by Titus and to Africa by Gaiseric. Justinian 
sent them back to Jerusalem and they were lodged in the 
Church of the Holy Sepulchre. 

The re-establishment of Roman rule in Africa did not bring 
peace. The soldiers whom Belisarius had left as a garrison 
were the most discontented of all. They had not received the 
rewards they had looked for, they were heavily taxed, and 
their very reHgion was under a ban. For they themselves 
were barbarians, they had married Vandal wives, and such 
religion as they had was of the Arian form. But Justinian 
had now established orthodoxy and they could not even baptise 

536. their children in their own faith. 

There was a mutiny in Africa and Belisarius, who was in 
Sicily, had to return. He crushed the mutiny and returned to 
Sicily. The mutiny broke out again and was eventually ex- 


tinguished by Germanus, the nephew of Justinian. Africa 
was now at peace, but it was the peace which heralds the 
approach of death. Year by year the fertile province, once 
the granary of the empire, sank more deeply into decay. 
Those who had anything to lose left a country where prosper, 
ity could no longer be looked for. Tribes from the interior 
ravaged the land ; the imperial tax-collector took anything 
that was left. During the reign of Justinian the population 
of the pro\dnce of Africa fell 5,000,000. Thus did this em- 
peror wantonly destroy that which might have proved an 
irresistible barrier to arrest the progress of Mohammedanism. 

After his success in Africa Justinian turned his attention 
to Italy. The son of Amalasuntha had died, the queen herself 
had been murdered, and Theodahad, her cousin, was king. 
Against him Justinian declared war. Making Sicily once more 535. 
the base of his operations, Belisarius arrived there from Con- 
stantinople with 7,500 men, and the Sicilian towns quickly 
opened their gates. So alarmed was Theodahad that he opened 
negotiations with Justinian and offered to abdicate if he would 
guarantee him an annual income. Justinian agreed, but Theo- 
dahad changed his mind and the war proceeded. Belisarius 
advanced, captured Rhegium and Naples, and was master of 
Southern Italy. Then he marched on Rome. As Theodahad 
had done nothing to check the Romans, the Goths deposed 
him and elected their general Witigis in his stead. The choice 
was unfortunate. Witigis was a brave enough soldier, but in- 
capable of coping with a general like Belisarius. His career 
was a series of blunders. Not that his task was easy, for Italy 
was greatly divided. Benefits are soon forgotten, and the 
long, wise reign of Theodoric was a thing of the past. The 
native ItaHans, who were in the majority, probably preferred 
that Justinian should triumph. 

Witigis garrisoned Rome and fell back on Ravenna. This 

was a mistake. Pope Silverius, the bishop of Rome, at once 

sent messengers to Belisarius ottering to surrender the city, 

and the soldiers of the garrison knew that they were in the 536. 
VOL. II. 24 


midst of traitors. When therefore Behsarius advanced and 
entered by the Porta Asinaria, the garrison departed through 
the Porta Flaminia. Behsarius then repaired the fortifications, 
provisioned the city, and settled down in the position of van- 

537. tage which Witigis had so easily abandoned. 

Having gathered a great army, Witigis now returned and 
laid siege to Rome. But neither at blockade nor assault could 
he match Behsarius. At last, when a year had been wastet' 

538. and their army had greatly dwindled, the Goths raised the 
siege and departed, their courage rendered useless by the in- 
capacity of their king. 

539. After these things the war dragged on slowly. The Franks, 
seeing the divided state of the country, marched into Italy 
a hundred thousand strong, and warred against Goth and im- 
periaHst ahke. They wasted the valley of the Po and for 
some years held part of Northern Italy. 

540. At length only Ravenna, and two or three northern cities 
held out against Justinian. Behsarius laid siege to .Ravenna. 
When the siege had been some time in progress the Goths 
proposed that he himself should become emperor and reign in 
Italy. Behsarius pretended to agree and thus obtained peace- 

540. able possession of the city. But when he had disbanded the 
Gothic army he ruled in Justinian's name. 

Behsarius was now recalled. His work in Italy seemed 
at an end, and a war had broken out with Persia. This 
war had been incited by Witigis, and had it begun earher 
it might have greatly helped the Gothic cause. But the 
diversion came too late to be of service. When Behsarius 
departed he carried Witigis with him to Constantinople as 
a prisoner, the second Teutonic king whom he had van- 

Alarmed at the progress that Justinian was making, and 
fearing that he would himself be the next victim, Chosroes, the 
king of Persia, again took the field, marched up the Euphrates 
valley and attacked Northern Syria. Beroea was sacked, 
Hierapolis ransomed at a price, and Antioch besieged. This 


important city was taken and plundered, and Chosroes returned 
to his winter quarters laden with spoil. 

Next year Belisarius appeared on the scene, but Chosroes 541. 
raided in another direction and thus avoided meeting the oreat 
general in the field. 

The year after a terrible plague arose in the East. Persia 542. 
and the empire were alike swept by it. Originating apparently 
in Egypt it spread through Palestine into Persia, and by way 
of Constantinople into Europe. It raged in Constantinople 
for four months. Justinian himself caught the infection but 

Next year BeKsarius was recalled. The plague had terribly 543. 
aggravated the already wretched concUtion of the empire. Com- 
merce was at a standstill ; over huge districts there was no 
longer any population to tax ; the emperor himself had been 
smitten, and was old before his time. Constantinople was 
suffering from famine as well as plague. 

The following year, the plague having abated in Persia, 544. 
Chosroes invaded Mesopotamia and besieged Edessa. There 
were three experienced generals in the city at this time, and it 
was defended with remarkable ability and enthusiasm. At last 
Chosroes accepted a bribe from the citizens and departed. Next 545. 
year he concluded a five years' truce with Justinian. 

When BeKsarius left Italy to take part in the Persian war 
disaster fell upon the Roman arms. There was indeed general 
dissatisfaction. The Roman soldiers left by Behsarius had not 
received the promotion and gifts to which they were entitled, 
and the ItaHan people were ground down by taxation. Jus- 
tinian had expected a rich revenue from Africa and Italy, and 
had set comptrollers of taxes over both countries. But the tax- 
collectors scarcely paid their way. Africa was all but bank- 
rupt, and money was obtained from Italy only by the severest 
pressure and by bringing forward the most monstrous claims. 
Under Gothic rule taxation had been extremely light, so the 
contrast was great. The Itahans regretted their precipitancy 
in changing masters, and the Gothic cause revived. 


540. When Witigis was carried into captivity the Goths elected 

Hildibad as his successor. He was murdered and succeeded by 
Baduila or Totila, who reigned for eleven years. Totila was an 
excellent leader, a chivalrous enemy, and a far-seeing man. 
Soon all Italy, except Rome, Spoleto and Ravenna was in his 
hands. Gladly would he have come to an understanding with 
Justinian, but the emperor detested the very name of Goth. 

544. When Belisarius returned from Mesopotamia Justinian sent 

him back to Italy. The forces with which he entrusted him 
were, however, so meagre that he could achieve little. His- 
torians have attributed this want of support to jealousy and 
intrigue, but it seems needless to suspect such reasons. The 
shadow of the plague was still resting on the empire and Jus- 
tinian had probably neither men nor money to send. Had he 
recognised this and left Italy altogether alone it would have 
been a blessing. 

Notwithstanding the best efforts of Belisarius, Totila 
marched throughout Italy and invested Rome. The siege 

546. lasted for a year and the city was captured and plundered. 
It throws an interesting light upon Gothic character to know 
that though the soldiers were allowed to slay the men they 
were strictly forbidden to touch the women in the conquered 
city. Totila did not love Rome, and he determined that he 
would not hold it. Accordingly he broke down the walls, 
burnt the gates and withdrew. For forty days Rome was 
without inhabitant, but after that Belisarius occupied it and 
repaired the walls, Totila, disgusted, returned and thrice 
assailed it, but finally withdrew and left the city alone. The 
possession of Rome had ceased to be of much importance. 
During Justinian's reign it changed hands five times. 

548. After five years in Italy Belisarius was again recalled. He 

had done little, for his resources had been inadequate. More- 
over the exactions of the tax-collector had changed the views 
of the Itahans with regard to imperialism, and they were not 
now well inchned towards Justinian. 

During the four years that followed the departure of Beli- 


sarins the power of Totila reached its zenith. He recaptured 
Rome, occupied Sicily, and pillaged the coasts of Sardinia and 
Epiras. Justinian would now perhaps have been glad of peace, 
but his court was full of Roman refugees who pressed him to 
continue the war. 

At length a new expedition was despatched to Italy, with 552. 
Narses in command. The choice was a strange one, for Narses 
was seventy-five years of age. But he was an able general, 
and the result justified the choice. His army was barbarian 
for the most part, Heruh, Lombards and Gepidae, perhaps 
20,000 strong. Cleverly evading forces sent to intercept him, 
Narses reached Ravenna without striking a blow. Then he 
marched towards Rome and met Totila at Taginae in Umbria. 
The Goths fought with their usual courage but were out-num- 
bered, out-manoeuvred and utterly overthrown, Totila was 
slain, and darkness only saved them from annihilation. 

Such Goths as escaped the slaughter of Tagin^e fled to 
Pavia and chose Teias, one of their generals, as king. But he 
made no headway against Narses. Rome was easily recaptured 
by the imperial troops, and then came the final struggle. A 
battle was fought near Naples, the Goths fighting with the 
courage of despair. When Teias and most of the warriors had 
fallen, the remnant submitted. Narses granted quarter on con- 
dition that they should leave Italy, and never again war 
against the empire. A thousand Goths refused to pledge 553, 
themselves and broke away. The rest marched sadly to the 
Alpine passes and so out of Italy. 

Teias had appealed to the Franks for aid against Narses, 
and they came, but too late to be of service. They divided 
their force in twain and half marched down the east coast and 
half down the west. One of the armies was destroyed by 
famine and pestilence, the other by Narses. Few escaped. 
The Gothic power in Italy was at an end, and the country 
ravaged and ruined was again a part of the empire. Every 
trace of the kingdom of Theodoric had disappeared, and Narses 
was the first governor of the reconquered peninsula. 


Whilst the conquest of Italy was in progress the armies of 
Justinian were also engaged in Spain. The success of Beli- 
sarius in North Africa and Italy alarmed the Visigoths, and 
544. Theudis, their king, invaded the newly created imperial pro- 
vince in Africa. His army was, however, almost annihilated. 

550. Some years after there was a disputed succession in Spain 
and Athanagild, one of the rivals, begged Roman aid. Justi- 

551. nian sent Liberius, the governor of Africa, and many towns on 
the south-east coast opened their gates to him. Alarmed at 
the progress of the Romans the Goths united under Athana- 
gild and accepted him as king. Athanagild now greatly 
desired the departure of the Romans, but they were not easily 
got rid of. They did not acquire more territory, nor did they 
penetrate into the interior of Spain, but sixty years passed 
before all the towns which they had acquired were recovered 
by the Goths. 

When the five years' truce with Persia ran out hostilities 
550, were renewed. This time the fighting was at Colchis in Cau- 
casia. Here Justinian had an advantage, for he could bring 
his troops by sea, whereas the Persians had to reach the Col- 
chian coast by way of Armenia or Iberia. This wretched war 
dragged on for some years, and then a fifty years' peace was 
562. arranged. Chosroes surrendered his claim on Colchis, and 
Justinian undertook to pay him £18,000 annually. The first 
seven instalments were to be paid at once. 

Justinian's last years were neither peaceful nor prosperous. 
The Slavs were now making their entrance into history and 
were ravaging the provinces of the empire and threatening 
Constantinople. AlHed with the Bulgarians they ravaged the 
Balkan peninsula as far as the Gulf of Corinth, and took, it is 
said, 100,000 prisoners back with them beyond the Danube. 
558. The Huns also crossed the Balkans and ravaged Thrace. 

Four thousand of them even rode up to the gates of Constanti- 
nople. There was a great panic, and Justinian appealed to 
Belisarius to save the empire. The veteran general had but a 
handful of reliable troops and a levy of half -armed peasants, 


but so skilfully did he manipulate them that the enemy ima- 
gined him to have an immense army behind him and fled. It 
was one of the best things that BeHsarius had done. 

In Justinian's last years there was a conspiracy against 562. 
him, and BeHsarius was suspected of having known of it. He 
was under a cloud for eight months, but after that time was 
received back into favour. The stories told about his excessive 
poverty in old age are mythical. He died in the possession of 565. 
his riches and honours in March, .565, and Justinian died in 
December of the same year. 

Justinian was a great lawyer. His work in connection 
with Roman jurisprudence entitles him to high honour. But 
this is about all that can be said for liim. Had he avoided 
aggressive warfare his reign might have been a blessing. But 
he must eternally meddle with other peoples, so his reign be- 
came a curse. The weakness of the Roman Empire when he 
ascended the throne was already very great. Justinian bled it 
to death. Africa relapsed into barbarism. The fair provinces 
in which Phoenicians, Romans and Vandals had thriven became 
desert. Italy had recuperative power, and though depopulated 
and impoverished, it recovered in the end. But Africa never 
did. Nor was the condition of the Eastern provinces much 
better. The tax-collector ruthlessly drained their substance, 
and for years Justinian was spending the capital of his subjects, 
living upon their vital energies. No revenue could keep pace 
with his wastefulness, and when he died his very name was 

Justinian's ecclesiastical policy was as mistaken as his 
foreign policy and scarcely less disastrous in its results. He 
regarded himself as the final authority in Church affairs, began 
life orthodox, ended it a heretic, and all the time persecuted 
those of the contrary opinion without mercy. Forced conver- 
sion was the order of the day. In Asia Minor alone 70,000 
persons were baptised under compulsion. Certain forms of 
heresy were considered capital offences. Pagans and heretics 
were excluded from the privilege of citizenship. 


Justinian suppressed the schools of philosophy in Athens. 
The professors were pagans, but the schools were so famous 
that they drew students from all parts of the world, and many 
of the Fathers of the Church had been educated there. The 
teachers fled to Persia in search of rehgious freedom. But 
they did not find it, and at last by the intercession of the king 
of Persia they were permitted to return to the empire and end 
their days in peace. 

During Justinian's reign the Saxons and Britons were 
fighting for supremacy in the island which had once belonged 
to Rome. It is strange to have to record that this once 
important Roman island, in which Constantine had been 
proclaimed emperor, was now so thoroughly forgotten in 
Constantinople that it had become the subject of legend. The 
fishermen of Northern Gaul had, so says the legend, the task 
of rowing boats laden with ghostly forms across to Britain by 
night. They accomplished the voyage in the space of an hour, 
whereas ordinary mortals could only cross in a day and a night. 
As the oarsmen departed they could hear voices speaking to 
the souls whom they had left in this uncanny land. 




Before the days of Mohammed little was known of Arabia, 
and, indeed, little is known of it yet. There is not the same 
ignorance with regard to the Arabian. He has kept well in 
touch with the world. In early times, before the ship of the 
desert was superseded by the ship of the sea, the Arabians 
enjoyed a large share of the carrying trade between Europe 
and India. The Phoenicians, the Romans, and the Byzantines 
traded with India, Abyssinia and East Africa by way of Arabia, 
and a country, not itself rich in natural productions, became 
rich as an entrepot, and as an agent and carrier for the mer- 
chants of other lands. 

The Arabian himself was therefore well in evidence. His 
caravans, his horses, his camels, were familiar objects in the 
market places of Syria, Persia and Egypt. His qualities were 
well understood. He was predatory by instinct ; seldom hesi- 
tating to plunder when he got the chance, but scrupuloiisly 
honest in matters of trust, ready to defend with his life, if need 
were, the person or property formally delivered to his care. 
Perhaps this last was less a virtue than a necessity. Had it 
been otherwise, the carrying trade of Arabia must soon have 
passed away. 

The fighting qualities of the Arabian were also appreciated. 

From the earliest times robber bands on horses and camels had 

issued from Arabia, raided the border countries, and hurried 

back with their spoil to regions so waterless and desolate that 



none dared follow. Sometimes their conquests had been more 
permanent. Arabian dynasties had ruled in the Euphrates 
Valley, and the Hyksos kings who governed Egypt for cen- 
turies were probably Arabian. 

Arabia had never been fully subjugated by a foreign power. 
Alexander the Great contemplated its conquest, but death inter- 
rupted his project. The Romans during the reign of Augustus 
B.C. 25. invaded Western Arabia. They were in possession of Egypt 
and wanted to command the Red Sea and get the Indian trade 
entirely into their hands. An expedition was accordingly sent 
under ^Elius Gallus, an officer holding a high post in Egypt, 
but the men, though the natives gave them little trouble, suf- 
fered so severely from disease and hunger that they were thank- 
ful to beat a precipitate retreat. 

The fringe of the country had been subjugated from time to 
time ; in the north by Romans, Byzantines and Persians ; in 
the south by Persians and Abyssinians. But the central 
plateau had never been subjugated, never even explored by the 
foreigner. To this the inhospitable nature of the country was 
in early days the chief obstacle, for the people themselves were 
disunited, and there was no independent state of such power or 
importance as could have opposed any considerable resistance 
to an adequate military force. 

The south-west comer of Arabia was caUed Yemen, some- 
times Arabia Felix. Saba (Sheba) was an important city there 
in early times, and its queen visited Solomon a thousand years 
before the Christian era. Fifty years before the birth of 
Mohammed the Abyssinians, who were Christians of a sort, 
overthrew the native dynasty in Yemen, and ruled there. 
Then the Persians interfered, the Abyssinians were expelled, 
and the province fell under Persian rule. 

Travellers on the Red Sea have noticed the mountain ranges 
of red sandstone at varying distances from the coast, sometimes 
almost touching the water's edge, sometimes standing farther 
back. The mountains form the side of a vast plateau, which 
the heat of the sun and the lack of water make for the most 

AEABlA 381 

part arid and unproductive. Yet here and there, in hollow 
places, springs break forth, and green and fertile oases greet 
the weary traveller. 

Between the plateau and the sea lies a strip of level and 
fertile land of varying width. This strip is well populated and 
much of it has been explored. Yemen, the south-west corner 
already mentioned, is the most prosperous part, having the 
ancient city of Aden, now a British possession. Aden traded 
with Tyre three thousand years ago, and is mentioned in 

Above Yemen, on the western shore, lies the province of 
Hejaz, with the seaport of Jeddah and the cities of Mecca and 
Medina. As Hejaz and Yemen could be commanded from the 
sea, they were vulnerable, and Yemen was, as we have seen, 
sometimes subdued. But only the seaboard was affected, in 
the mountains the Arabs maintained their independence. 

Though the soil and climatic conditions of Arabia forbid 
agriculture over most of its area, yet there are fertile nooks 
here and there, whence spices, perfumes and fruits are exported. 
In such places there are settled populations, and they afford 
resting-places for the caravans. Inns, stabling and the various 
industries connected with the carrying trade spring up ; villages 
develop, and sometimes towns. Fairs are held periodically at 
some of the towns, and increase their importance. The horses 
and camels of Arabia, bought largely at fairs, have been famous 
from antiquity. 

For the protection of pilgrims and of merchants going to 
the fairs, the Arabs, like the Greeks of earlier days, observed 
a truce during certain months of the year, three at one time 
and one at another, four months in all. The truce was well 
observed, because so manifestly for the common good. To 
attack an enemy during the sacred months was considered 

The city of Mecca was specially well-placed. It stood forty 
miles from Jeddah, at the intersection of two important caravan 
routes. A little east lay the town of Ukaz, where was held 


annually one of the most popular of Arabian fairs. In Mecca 
stood the Kaaba, or cube, a temple of antiquity famous 
throughout Arabia. There were several other centres of pil- 
grimage in Arabia, but the Kaaba was pre-eminently the temple 
of Allah, the Supreme God, and vows taken, covenants made, 
and curses uttered in its vicinity had special significance. The 
sanctity of the Kaaba extended to its precincts, some square 
miles in aU, As fighting was not permitted within this sacred 
area, men traded in Mecca with special security. 

The religion of the Arabs before the days of Mohammed 
was a medley of superstition. They worshipped the heavenlj^ 
bodies, spirits benevolent and malevolent, stocks and stones, 
anything and everything. Fetiches and charms were common. 
The talisman is peculiarly Arabic. They had many local 
gods, each tribe its own. But though each tribe or even 
family might have a patron deity, like most idolaters they had 
some conception of one supreme, all-ruling providence. Allah 
Taala, the Most High God was over all, but was too busy to 
attend to the individual, and not to be lightly invoked. The 
Kaaba was specially dedicated to Allah, but the tribes had 
also their patron deities there, so that there were hundreds of 
idols in and around the sanctuary. 

Before entering the sacred territory of the Kaaba the 
pilgrims divested themselves of their clothing, and donned 
raiment supplied by the custodians of the temple. Any food 
they had brought with them they left with their clothing out- 
side the sacred boundary, so that they were clothed and fed 
during the days of pilgrimage by the temple custodians. They 
were superintended in their devotions by appointed guides ; 
they visited the Kaaba, kissed the sacred black stone ; walked 
seven times around the building ; seven times ran up the hills 
Safa and Marwa and down again; walked round Arafat, a 
hill ten miles east of Mecca ; threw stones at three pillars in 
the Mina Valley and sacrificed. Then the head of the pilgrim 
was shaved, and his nails were pared, and with the burial of 
the hair and parings the pilgrimage was complete. 


The Kaaba was an ancient sanctuary, dating several cen- 
turies before the Christian era. The legend declared it to have 
been built by Seth, and restored by Abraham and Ishmael, 
under the direction of the angel Gabriel. The black stone in 
the eastern angle was said to have been originally a jacinth of 
brilliant whiteness, but to have become black by absorbing the 
sins of its devotees. Probably the stone was meteoric. A 
mosque has been built round the Kaaba, which has been 
destroyed and renewed on several occasions, and the stone worn 
and broken is bound together by silver bands. 

The Arabians are fond of tracing their descent to Abraham, 
and various places round the Kaaba are connected with his 
name and that of Ishmael. It is likely enough that Ishmael- 
itish tribes mingled with the Arabs, but Arabia was peopled 
thousands of years before the days of Abraham, and the Arabs 
are a mixed race. The legends about Abraham were grafted 
on to the Arabic native legends after the Jews began to settle 
in Northern Arabia, and the early part of Arabian genealogies 
has been copied from Jewish books. 

The Jews became numerous in Arabia. Palestine had been 
often raided, and its inhabitants were scattered again and 
again. Sargon, Nebuchadrezzar, Pompey, Vespasian, and 
Hadrian, had each in his turn dealt roughly with the country, 
and many Jews had been driven into exile. For such Arabia 
lay temptingly near. Into its desert wilds the enemy dared 
not penetrate. Medina, formerly called Yathrib, was a Jewish 

There were also a good many Christians in Arabia, and the 
parts of Syria adjacent. As a rule they belonged to sects 
counted heterodox, and had been driven into exile by the 
orthodox Church. The fathers probably had been sincere and 
earnest men, but their descendants, like most Christians of that 
period, sadly lacked the spirit of Christianity. They were 
more fond of discussing subtleties of doctrine than of preach- 
ing the Gospel. Though, therefore, Mohammed met Christians 
and conversed with them he never understood Christianity. 


Had he, early in life, met some single-minded Aquila or 
Priscilla to instruct him in the things of God, the history of 
the Eastern world might have been different. But in the sixth 
century the Christianity of the East was exceedingly corrupt. 
Image worship was widely prevalent and rites and ceremonies 
were credited with magical power. There was often little 
difference between the Christians and the idolaters by whom 
they were surrounded. 

Generally speaking, the idol worshipper is a tolerant man. 
He has his own god, and is willing that you should have yours. 
He does not ask that you should worship his god, he does not 
even desire it, for you might rob him of a share in its favours. 
The Romans of old carefully concealed even the name of their 
civic deity, lest she might be tempted away to another city. 
Before the days of Mohammed, therefore, the Arabians did not 
object to the presence of Jews and Christians in their midst. 
But Christianity made little progress amongst them. The 
whole temper of the tribes, their vindictive codes, their love of 
fighting, their plundering propensities, their vagrant habits, 
were all antagonistic to Christian teaching. With the Jew 
the Arab had more affinity. But he was content to claim 
descent from Abraham, and graft the picturesque narratives of 
the Jewish Scriptures upon his own legends. The Arab faith 
borrowed something from Judaism, but yielded nothing to its 
influence. It remained a deep-rooted idolatry. 

Before the time of Mohammed there was in Arabia no 
common central government. Each tribe, whether it wandered 
in the desert or lived an urban life, was self-governing. Every 
free-born Arabian had his tribe, and claimed its protection. If 
he misbehaved grossly he might be disowned, but until he was 
disowned the tribe was responsible for his action and protected 
his person. If a member of a tribe was slain, either the were- 
gild must be accepted and paid, or blood must atone for blood. 
The blood feud, the vendetta, was the curse of Arabia. A 
thoughtless insult, an unpremeditated blow, might involve 
tribes in years of retaliatory warfare. But for the rigid 


observance of the sacred months life would have been at times 
intolerable. Doubtless the tribal system had advantages. The 
fact that every man was protected by his tribe made his enemies 
careful. A blood feud was not a penalty to be lightly incurred. 
But for the protection afforded to him, often unwillingly 
enough by his tribe, Mohammed's course would have been 
soon run. 

Though the tribal system of Arabia was specially suited to 
the nomadic and pastoral part of the population, it existed 
with almost equal force in the cities. There was little muni- 
cipal government in a modern sense in Arabia. Even in the 
cities each tribe dwelt in its own quarter and guarded itself. 
Often there was conflict between the tribes, and there was 
always jealousy. The need for protection as well as esprit de 
corps bound the members of a tribe together. Mohammed 
could walk the streets of Mecca, not without insult perhaps, 
but without fear of physical violence, because men dreaded the 
retaliatory vengeance of his tribe. Yet so little sympathy had 
this same tribe with its obstinate member that Abu Lahab, 
one of his uncles, followed him about, advising people not to 
listen to his follies, and throwing clods at him. The uncle 
might do this with impunity, but had a member of another 
tribe attempted it, Mohammed's family would have risen as 
one man. Nowhere in the world has the tribal system been 
so permanent as in Arabia. Tribes live there to-day in the 
same localities, bearing the same names, and boasting the 
same descent as they did in the days of him whom they call 
their prophet. 

VOL. II. 25 



The Kuraish, a group of tribes having a common ancestor, 
were dominant in Mecca in the sixth century, and the custody 
of the Kaaba was in their hands. Tliey were not priests in 
the ordinary sense, but they took care of the building, repaired 
it, if necessary even rebuilt it, and supervised the religious 
services connected with it. As this duty carried with it the 
right to fees, and to supply food and raiment to the pilgrims 
during the days of pilgrimage, it was valuable and highly 
prized. The groups of families claiming Kuraish blood dwelt 
side by side in Mecca, each group distinct, and divided the 
duties and emoluments of the Kaaba between them. The 
family group of Hashim, to which Mohammed belonged, in- 
terests us more particularly. 

570. Mohammed was born at Mecca just five years after the 

death of the Roman emperor Justinian. His father Abdalla 
died at Medina, whilst absent from Mecca on a business journey, 
just before Mohammed was born. Amina, the widowed mother, 
gave her child to Halima, a Bedouin woman, to nurse ; and he 
remained with her tribe in the desert until he was five years of 
age. At the age of four he had a fit, and he had a tendency to 
fits throughout his life. They were, however, never severe and 
they were often feigned. They did not interfere with his 
bodily development, nor keep him from exposing himself in 
active military service. 

576. In Mohammed's sixth year Amina took him to Medina, the 

home of his father's maternal relatives. When they had so- 
journed there for a time and were returning, Amina fell sick 

and died. She was buried at Abwa, a village midway between 


MECCA 387 

the two cities. Mohammed returned to Mecca and was taken 
care of by his grandfather, Abd al-MuttaHb. Two years later 
the old man died and left the guardianship of the child to Abu 
Talib, Mohammed's uncle. Abu Talib was a poor man with 
many responsibilities, but he treated his orphan nephew kindly 
and was faithful to his trust. 

When Mohammed was twelve years of age he accompanied 582. 
his uncle on a caravan journey to Syria. The journey lasted 
several months, the caravan going to Bozra (Bostra), a busy 
city on the road to Damascus. Prolmbly Mohammed accom- 
panied various Meccan caravans after this time, and saw 
several foreign countries. The Koran shows an acquaintance 
with travelling which must have been acquired at this time. 
He speaks of the Euphrates and of Egypt. It is probable that 
he had seen the Dead Sea and sailed upon the Red Sea. 

Mohammed was not educated in the ordinary sense. He 
was not taught as a child to read or write, and what know- 
ledge of letters he gained in after years must have been slight. 
But he had a capacity for picking up information and for 
utilising it. And there was a great deal of miscellaneous in- 
formation to be picked up on a caravan journey, conversing 
with the merchants and the strangers who attached themselves 
to caravans for the sake of safety, and listening to the tales 
told round the camp fires. On his journeys Mohammed saw 
Christian churches and monasteries, and passed through various 
Jewish settlements. With the Jews especially he had inter- 
course, and his knowledge of Christianity, which was strangely 
incorrect, seems to have been largely obtained from Jewish 
sources. Conversing with Jews he learned the narratives of the 
Old Testament, and acquired a sort of Biblical phraseology which 
gives a tone to the Koran. But the lack of accuracy in his in- 
formation reveals itself, as, for instance, when he thinks that 
Mary the sister of Moses and Mary the mother of Jesus arc 
the same. 

When twenty-five years of age Mohammed went with a 
caravan to Syria in charge of the merchandise of Khadija, a 


widow. She was pleased with his management of her affairs, 
and a friendship sprang up between them which led to mar- 
riage. Khadija was older than Mohammed, and had been 
married twice before, but she was a good woman and had an 
excellent influence on his early life. She bore him two sons 
and four daughters. The sons died in childhood and the 
daughters were not long-lived, though the youngest, Fatima, 
saw her fortieth year. When Mohammed found that he was 
not likely to have a son to succeed him, he adopted Ali, a young 
cousin, son of Abu Talib, the uncle who had shown him so much 

As Khadija was wealthy Mohammed had leisure, and he 
spent much time in meditation. His favourite subjects for medi- 
tation were theological, the religious condition of his country- 
men greatly exercising his mind. Certainly there was enough 
in this to disquiet a thoughtful man. Doubtless there were in 
Arabia some whose hearts turned towards the great author of 
their existence, and who worshipped Him in sincerity and in 
truth. But the mass of the people were in dense spiritual 
darkness. Vice, infanticide, highway robbery, drunkenness 
abounded. And their gods, what were they ? Three hundred 
and sixty-five deities in the Kaaba, blocks of wood. True 
there were in Arabia both Jews and Christians. These pro- 
fessed not to worship idols, and spoke of the one living and 
true God. But they were foreigners, they made few converts, 
and their creeds, so far as Mohammed could piece them together, 
were contradictory and confusing. 

After much pondering Mohammed came to the conclusion 
that all men had gone astray, that all had departed from the 
truth as it had been revealed. Jews, Christians, Arabian 
idolaters had alike forgotten the great first cause, Allah Taala, 
the Most High God. He must begin there. There is one God. 
He was right. He had reached the rock of eternal truth. 
Would that he had rested upon it. 

For a time Mohammed was content to preach against idol 
worship. That was no easy task, for he was in a nation of 

MECCA 389 

idolaters, and in a city consecrated to idolatry. If idols were 
not to be worshipped, what would become of the Kaaba ? If 
the Kaaba ceased to attract, what would become of Mecca ? 
And who was he who thus dared to speak against the worship 
of his ancestors ? Mohammed, the camel-driver, a man who 
C(juld scarcely write his own name. 

Mohammed gained adherents but slowly. Khadija his wife 
supported him loyally ; an old man Waraka, who died soon 
afterwards, is said to have given him his blessing ; Zeid, his 
freeman ; Ali, his adopted son, a child of eleven, and Abu Bekr, 
a well-to-do cloth merchant, accepted his teaching. These were 
adherents, with the exception perhaps of Waraka we cannot 
speak of them as converts. Conversion implies a change of 
heart, and of this neither Mohammed nor his followers had any 
experience. In declaring that there was but one God Moham- 
med enunciated a great truth, but farther than that he could 
neither go himself nor lead his followers. There is nothing in 
Mohammed's life to show that his heart was touched by his 
doctrine. He had no personal knowledge of the God whom he 
proclaimed. Whilst he lived in Mecca he walked circumspectly, 
for he had no alternative, but when he got the upper hand he 
showed himself bloodthirsty, revengeful, cunning and impure. 
Mohammed was intellectually correct, but intellectual correct- 
ness is of small account in dealing with the God who sees the 
heart. The humblest worshipper in the Kaaba who turned 
with a broken heart to such vision of God as he had and 
prayed that his sins might be forgiven was nearer God than 
the intellectually correct " prophet ". 

From an early period in his ministry Mohammed adopted 
the role of a prophet. He had heard much of Moses and of 
Jesus, and he knew that they claimed to be divinely inspired. 
They were messengers from God, and had produced revelations 
from Him, why should not he do the same ? The world had 
wandered from their teaching and needed to be recalled. He 
would recall it, he, Mohammed, the last and greatest of the 


There is no need to imagine that Mohammed was insincere 
in desiring to place himself upon this level. He was merely 
an ignorant man with only the most crude hearsay knowledge 
of the subjects he discussed. His knowledge of Christianity 
was curiously vague. So ignorant was he of the fundamental 
doctrine of the Christian faith, redemption through the death 
of the Son of God, that he thought himself to be defending 
Christianity when he contended that Jesus never was crucified, 
but one resembling Jesus, and mistaken by the Jews for him. 
In claiming, therefore, to be the successor of Moses and Christ, 
and a greater than either, it did not occur to him that he was 
doing anything out of the way. Several so-called prophets 
had arisen in Arabia before Mohammed ; indeed there was one 
in Central Arabia at that very time of whom tradition makes 
Mohammed a pupil. 

Having claimed inspiration, Mohammed felt bound to pro- 
duce specimens of his power. Here again the ignorance of the 
man was his strength. Had he been able to read the Scrip- 
tures something of their unapproachable grandeur might have 
dawned upon his soul. Haply, indeed, he might have seen how 
fully they met the wants of his own people. Had he been ac- 
quainted with books of any sort he would have seen how much 
he had to learn. But, entrenched in sublime ignorance, he sat 
self-satisfied and dictated the scraps which have been preserved 
for us in the book known as the Koran. The Koran was not 
wholly composed by Mohammed. Some of the best sentiments 
may, it is believed, have been added by enthusiastic followers 
after his death when his utterances were being collected. It is 
also probable that had Mohammed lived to superintend the col- 
lection of his utterances he would have carefully edited some of 
the suras (or chapters) before sending them forth to the world. 
But we have to take the Koran as we find it. It is not wholly 
contemptible. There are bright bits in it here and there. But 
a brief study of its contents will convince any reasonable man 
that to even discuss the question of inspiration in connection 
with it would be to insult the Most High. Mohammed, how- 

MECCA 391 

ever, was well satisfied with his work, nay, proud of it. When 
the unbelieving demanded a miracle, Mohammed pointed to his 
compositions, and asked whether work of that sort could be 
produced without superhuman aid. One man, Al-Nadir Ibn 
Harith, said it could be, and produced work done in the same 
style. His writings were publicly read and approved. But 
Al-Nadir had better have left the matter alone. He was made 
prisoner at Mohammed's first battle, the battle of Badr, and 
though most of the prisoners were released Al-Nadir was exe- 
cuted out of hand. Mohammed would have no competitor. 

Though Mohammed gained adherents very slowly, yet he 
made progress enough to annoy his fellow-townsmen. He 
adopted a benign and dignified manner, wore a veil, and could 
only be seen by appointment. His followers met with more 
or less secrecy in the house of a disciple who lived outside 
Mecca. The meetings partook of the nature of modern seances, 
sometimes Mohammed was covered with a blanket, and received 
a new revelation, sometimes old revelations were again recited. 
Zealous disciples learned the revelations by heart. Rules con- 
cerning the times and attitudes of prayer were laid down. At 
first the system had the charm of a secret society, with a spice 
of danger not without attraction to some. How the name of 
" Moslem " came to be used we hardly know ; it was probably 
given at first in ridicule, for it seems to mean " traitor," but ' 
Mohammed adopted it, and gave it a new significance. The 
name which the members themselves favoured for their society 
was " Islam," a word signifying absolute submission to God. 

As adherents increased enemies also increased. Mohammed 
was attacking the national religion, and declaring that the gods 
they worshipped were no gods. The general impression in 
Mecca was that the man was mad. Open persecution began. 
The influence of Abu Talib saved Mohammed himself from 
personal violence, but most of his followers were in poor cir- 
cumstances, and they suffered persecution. Mohammed had 
to help some of them financially, and Khadija's wealth came 
in useful. At last he advised those who could get away to 


emigrate to Abyssinia, and many did so. The Abyssinians 
professed Christianity, and received the refugees with kindness. 
The Meccans sent an embassy to the Negus, asking that they 
might be extradited, but the Negus declined to interfere. 

Mohammed's most important disciples were Abu Bekr and 
Omar. It might almost be said that but for Abu Bekr there 
would never have been any Mohammedanism, and that but fca.* 
him it would have died with Mohammed. Abu Bekr was a 
true hero-worshipper, and his persuasion was the chief means 
of winning adherents in the beginning. After Mohammed's 
death, when Islam was falling to pieces, he saved it by uniting 
the tribes of Arabia into a great plundering fraternity, and 
turning them loose upon the world. 

Omar was a later acquisition. He was a swashbuckler, 
but not without good points. He struck his sister because she 
joined Islam, and then was so vexed with what he had done 
that he joined Islam himself. His first overtures were received 
with alarm, it was thought that he meant mischief. But he 
proved to be loyal, and Mohammed made him one of his cabinet 
council, and issued his instructions in the names of "I, Abu 
Bekr and Omar ", 

Omar's accession inspired confidence amongst the disciples. 
He was a man of great physical strength, and not very par- 
ticular as to the use he made of it. He could be very cruel at 
times. He was a coarse, rough man, and when he changed 
from a persecutor to a convert the disciples were greatly en- 
couraged. They could now perform their prayers in public 
places, even in the precincts of the Kaaba. 

The Meccans, exasperated at the turn affairs had taken, 
now resolved to boycot the Hashim clan until they turned their 
unruly member adrift. Yet, though the Hashimites disliked 
Mohammed, such was Arab fidelity to family ties, that they 
stood out against the ban for two or three years. At the end 
of that time the others were tired of being unkind, and a com- 
promise was effected. Mohammed conceded the intercessory 
value of certain favourite Meccan gods, and the Meccans de- 

MECCA 393 

clared themselves satisfied. But Mohammed found that he 
had compromised himself. Such of his supporters as were 
sincerely opposed to idol-worship objected to the concession, 
and he had to retract. This made the opposition more im- 
placable than ever. 

Khadija, Mohammed's wife, and Abu Talib, his uncle, died 619. 
in the same year, and in them Mcjhammed lost two excellent 
friends. Khadija encouraged her husband, and stood by him 
loyally from the beginning. Her means gave him leisure, 
her sympathy sustained him, her wisdom kept him on right 
lines. So loyal had Khadija been to him, that whilst she 
lived he dared not bring other women to his home. After her 
death he changed for the worse. Within two months he 
married a second wife, within the year he was betrothed to a 
third, and after that, paying no regard to the rules which he 
himself had laid down in the Koran, he gave the reins to his lusts. 

The loss of Abu Talib was scarcely less serious than that 
of Khadija. Abu Talib never believed in Mohammed, but he 
would not desert the nephew whom he had reared. For forty 
years he befriended him, and for several years he actively 
interposed between him and his enemies. On his death-bed he 
commended him to the protection of the rest of the family, 
but how much that might mean none could tell. 

Mohammed's means were now straitened. When he 
married Khadija she was rich, and her purse was at her 
husband's disposal. But before she died most of her substance 
had been spent. 

So critical was Mohammed's position that he decided to 
leave Mecca and try his fortune in another city. First he 
thought of Taif, a prosperous city about sixty miles to the 
east. He went there and interviewed the chief men. But 620. 
they would have none of him, and he had to fly, chased from 
the town with stones. It may be that at this time he thought 
of following his people to Abyssinia, and had he done so it 
would have been better for the world. But circumstances 
turned his mind towards Medina. 


Medina or Yathrib, originally a Jewish colony, had long 
been in the possession of Arab tribes, of whom two, the Aus 
and the Khazraj, were continually at war. The city was 
weary of civil strife, and ripe for the intervention of any one 
who would bring peace. Unlike the Meccans they had no 
special financial interest in idol-worship, and there were so 
many Jews amongst them that they were accustomed to hear 
it condemned. Mohammed was not altogether a stranger to 
Medina. His father's maternal relatives belonged to their 
city, and his father was buried there. 

It happened that Mohammed had an opportunity of ex- 
pounding his doctrines to some Medina pilgrims, and they 
listened with appreciation. Encouraged by their attitude he 
asked them whether they would protect him if he came to 
Medina. They promised to consult their friends and report at 
the next pilgrimage. 

621. Next year they reported favourably. Twelve pilgrims 
pledged their faith to Mohammed, and they promised to do 
still better if he would wait another year. Mohammed now 
sent a missionary to Medina : Musab, a young and zealous con- 
vert, who could recite the Koran, and knew how to conduct 
religious exercises in Moslem fashion. Under Musab the 
cause flourished, and when the time of pilgrimage came round 

622. again more than seventy adherents pledged themselves. A 
secret meeting was held by night, and Abbas, Mohammed's 
uncle, and head of the clan, handed him over formally to their 

The Meccans heard something of what was going on, and 
renewed their persecution. A general emigration of Moham- 
med's adherents ensued, and, within two months, from one to 
two hundred had fled to Medina. At last only Mohammed, 
Abu Bekr, and Ali remained. When these knew that the 
others were safe they prepared for flight. The Kuraish held 
a council, and appointed a deputation to see Mohammed, but 
he, fearing imprisonment or worse, evaded them, and escaped 
with Abu Bekr, Ali remaining to cover the retreat. 

MECCA 395 

The two friends hid for three days in a cave south of 
Mecca, and, as the road to Medina stretched northward, their 
pursuers were baffled. When they learned tliat the pursuit 
was at an end, they mounted swift camels, made a circuit, and 
got away safely. This is the year of the " Hijra," or emigi-a- 
tion, from which all Moslem dates are reckoned. 



622. Mohammed rested for a few days at Kuba, a village outside 
Medina, and there Ali joined him. Medina was called Yathrib 
at this time ; the name Medinat-al-Nabi, " the city of the pro- 
phet," is of later date. Mohammed had now many disciples in 
the city, and was received by them with enthusiasm. The 
other citizens, little imagining what the future would bring- 
forth, were interested and hospitable. Temporary homes were 
provided, a place suitable for a mosque was found, and the 
refugees settled down. 

The mosque built at Medina was simple in character ; a 
coui'tyard and shed lightly thatched, and a roof supported on 
wooden pillars, against one of which Mohammed leaned when 
he was preaching. Afterwards a pulpit was introduced. As 
public worship was at fixed hours, and there were no clocks 
among the refugees, an Ethiopian named Bilal called them to 
prayer. The Jews used a trumpet, the Christians a gong or 
tell, the Moslems the human voice. The shed was used not 
only for worship but for the transaction of Mohammed's busi- 
ness and as an audience chamber. 

Alongside the mosque quarters were provided for Moham- 
med's household. He had but one wife for the moment, Sauda. 
He was betrothed to Ayesha, aged nine, and she went to live 
with him shortly after his arrival in Medina. She developed 
into a keen-witted woman, and remained his favourite wife to 
the end. When he had many other wives and they complained 
that Ayesha had more than her share of his affections, he 
silenced them with a pretended revelation. 

Khadija had left four daughters, Rukayyah, Zeinab, Umm 



Kulthum and Fatima. Of these Zeinab remained in Mecca 
with her husband, the others were in Medina. 

Had Medina been like the cities to which we are accus- 
tomed, Mohammed and his adherents would have soon merged 
with the population and become subject to the common law. 
But in Arabian cities each tribe lived in its own district and 
was governed by its own elders. Hence the refugees settled 
down by themselves, with Mohammed as their chief. 

The refugees showed their chief great reverence. They 
treasured the clippings of his hair and nails, and sometimes 
even drank the water he washed in. Mohammed kept up his 
dignity and surrounded himself with court etiquette. It was 
the more necessary as his dwelling was in such a frequented 

Mohammed led public prayers in the mosque, and attend- 
ance was compulsory. The others stood in rows behind him 
imitating his movements. New suras were produced from 
time to time and recited in the mosque. They criticised cur- 
rent events and were the medium of legislation. There would 
have been little to say against them had not Mohammed pro- 
fessed that they were inspired. 

When Mohammed came to Medina he tried to win recog- 
nition from the Jews. From the beginning he had partially 
identified his system with theirs, adopting Old Testament nar- 
ratives, appealing to Jewish witness, and even observing the 
Fast of Atonement. Had the Jews acknowledged him as a 
prophet they would have retained his friendship. Unfortu- 
nately for them they scarcely took pains to conceal their con- 
tempt. Mohammed's friendship, therefore, turned to hate, they 
were an annoyance to him and a menace, for their very school- 
boys could expose his ignorance. He determined to destroy 
them or drive them out of his way. About eighteen months 
after his arrival in Medina he first showed signs of his deter- 
mination. It had been his rule to turn towards Jerusalem 
when in the attitude of prayer, but he suddenly changed this 
castom and turned towards Mecca, declaring that he had re- 


ceived a revelation to that effect. He also substituted the Fast 
of Ramadan for the Fast of Atonement. The Fast of Rama- 
dan is observed to this day. But it is only a fast in name. 
From sunrise to sunset the Moslems taste neither food nor 
water, it is true, but from sunset to sunrise they indulge in 
revelry. During the day they sleep off the effects of the 
revelry of the night. 

The refugees, now thrown upon their own resources, were 
often in dire poverty. Those who had any means left helped 
the rest until all were poor together. They earned a crust as 
they best could. Ali carried water at a date a bucket, Abu 
Bekr peddled clothes, Othman fruit, others milk, and so on. 
Often enough they lacked bread. They were ready for des- 
perate deeds. 

The caravan trade of Mecca was very valuable. Year after 
year at certain seasons the caravans passed to and from Mecca 
and Syria. Medina lay temptingly near the route, and Mo- 
hammed resolved that if his followers could not thrive by 
honest labour they should by plundering. They had friends 
in Mecca with whom they corresponded, and it was easy to 
learn when caravans were about to start or were expected soon 
to arrive. 

Up to this point there is room for difference of opinion with 
regard to the character of Mohammed. Had he continued, as 
many a true man has done, to bear poverty for the sake of 
principle, there would have remained room for difference of 
opinion. But from the moment when he elected to live by 
plundering it is not easy to see how honest men can differ with 
regard to his character. Whatever his inclinations may have 
been in the beginning he now became a highway robber of the 
worst type, one who broke truce and did not stop short of 
623. The first attempts at robbery made by the refugees were 

failures, but the men learned discipline, and gained confidence 
in each other. The sacred months were a sad trouble, for 
during these the best of the caravans passed. But Mohammed 


had a revelation permitting him to disregard such small 
matters, and after that all went well. 

News reached Medina that a caravan of special importance 624. 
was returning from Syria, led by Abu Sufyan, the chief citizen 
of Mecca. Mohammed sot out to attack it with 350 men, but 
Abu Sufyan was warned, and by forced marching got out of 
danger. Meanwhile the Meccans had heard of his peril and 
gone to his relief. Though they learned that the caravan was 
safe they went on, determined to punish the raiders. But when 
the forces met at Badr the Moslems were victorious. 

Mohammed was not a brave man and, like many who are 
not brave, he was cruel. He gloated over the dead, taunting 
them as their bodies were thrown into a ditch. When the head 
of a special enemy was cast at his feet he said : "It is more 
acceptable to me than the choicest camel in Arabia ". Out of 
forty-nine prisoners two were executed in cold blood. They 
were both men who had wounded his pride. One was Al-Nadir, 
the reciter, who has been already mentioned. The other was a 
man called Ukbah. Before he was cut down he cried out : 
" Who will take care of my little girl ? " " Hell-fire," replied 

The victory of Badr was a turning-point in Mohammed's 
career. Had he been defeated his enemies in Medina would 
have taken heart. But the victory, and, above all, the booty, 
brought many over to his side. 

After Badr, Mohammed degenerated with rapidity. His 
spies were everywhere, and men were ready to assassinate at 
his command. A woman in the city had written satirically 
about him. A Moslem plunged his sword through her body as 
she lay asleep. Next day at morning prayer Mohammed wel- 
comed the murderer with effusion. He asked if there would 
be trouble. " None," said Mohammed, " two goats will not 
knock their heads about it." An aged Jew who dared to pro- 
test against tyranny was murdered in the same way. A reign 
of terror had begun. 

Shortly after the Battle of Badr Mohammed had a quarrel 


with the Banu Kainuka, the Jewish goldsmiths of Medina. The 
quarrel arose out of a drunken row in which Mohammed's 
uncle Hamza was a chief actor. Mohammed had been insulted 
by his uncle, and the Jews had shown their contempt for the 
whole family somewhat too openly. Accordingly he attacked 
their settlement, and after a fortnight's resistance they some- 
what pusillanimously surrendered at discretion. With extra- 
ordinary brutaUty Mohammed ordered that they should be 
massacred, but Abdallah, who had been chief man in Mecca 
before Mohammed's advent, insisted on the order being can- 
celled. At last Mohammed changed the sentence into exile. 
" Let them go," he said, " God curse them, and you also." 

Great spoil resulted from the outrage on the Banu Kainuka, 
and the Moslems found themselves in the possession of habita- 
tions and comparative wealth. 

The drunken scene of which mention has been made had 
one result which must be considered satisfactory, the abolition 
of the use of intoxicating liquors among the Moslems. The 
date of the prohibition is uncertain, but it became the subject 
of a revelation, and Moslems who had not got rid of their 
liquor after warning had been given were compelled to pour it 
out. The use of wine was forbidden even as medicine, or in 
the form of vinegar. Though there is still drunkenness 
among the Moslems, especially among the wealthier classes, 
Mohammed's prohibition has been on the whole remarkably 

The dangers to which their caravans were now exposed led 
the Meccans to try another road, and a heavily laden caravan 
was sent by the new route. It was in vain ; Mohammed's spies 
sent him word, and the expedition which he sent to attack the 
caravan returned with much booty. 

Mohammed was now a rich man, so he added Hafsah, the 
daughter of Omar, to his harem. To Othman, a leading fol- 
lower, who had married his daughter, Rukayyah, who was 
now dead, he gave another daughter, Umm Kulthum, to wife, 
Fatima, his youngest daughter, he gave to Ali, his nephew. 


Hasan and Hosein, the sons of Ali and Fatima, were after- 
wards very famous in Moslem history. 

The Meccans, perceiving that their commerce would be 
ruined if they did not take action, determined to attack 
Medina. Three thousand strong they marched, Abu Sufyan 
leading. The rival armies met at Uhud, and the Meccans, 
numerous though they were, were broken at the first charge. 
But the Moslems fell too quickly to plundering, and Khalid, a 
Meccan leader, who had kept his cavalry in hand, charged 
upon the Moslem rear and turned the tide of battle. The Mec- 
cans recovered, the Moslems fled. Mohammed was wounded, 
but the cry that he was slain saved his life. He was huddled 
by Ali into a ravine, and kept there until the danger was past. 
Had the Meccans been well led in this battle they might have 
made an end of Islam. But instead of fighting to a finish, they 
rested content with the advantage they had gained, and set 
out for home. On the way back they realised their mistake, 
and some would have turned, but it was too late. 

The defeat at Uhud weakened Mohammed's influence among 
the unbelievers for a time, but a revelation explained it to the 
rest. Some small excursions were organised to cheer the down- 
hearted, and a few special enemies were silenced by assassination. 

When money ran short again Mohammed once more turned 
to the Jews. This time he picked a quarrel with the Banu 
Nadir, and besieged their quarter. When they had seen the 
specially fine date-palms, by the cultivation of which they 
lived, cut down, they surrendered, and were permitted to go 
into exile. As there had been no bloodshed, their possessions 
went to Mohammed, who disposed of them as he saw fit. 

About this time Mohammed tried the faith of his followers 

by adding Zainab, wife of Zaid, his adopted son, to his harem. 

By Easterns such marriages were highly disapproved, and 

Mohammed had himself legislated against them. But Zaid 

preferred not to oppose his patron's amorous inclinations, and 

divorced his wife. A revelation did the rest. 
VOL. II. 26 


" When thou saidst to him on whom God hath bestowed 
favour, and upon whom thou too hast bestowed favours : 
' Keep thy wife to thyself, and fear God ' ; and thou coneealest 
in thy mind what God was about to make known, and thou 
f earedest man — whereas God is more worthy that thou shouldest 
fear him. And when Zaid had fulfilled her divorce, we joined 
thee in marriage unto her, that there might be no offence 
chargeable to believers in marrying the wives of their adopted 
sons, when they have fulfilled their divorce ; and the command 
of God is to be fulfilled " (Sec. xxxiii.). 

Mohammed was now getting on in years, and had six 
wives, mostly young. Evidently they needed watching, so 
the seclusion of the purdah and veil were enjoined. As usual, 
the instruction came from heaven. 

" And when ye ask anything of his women, ask it of them 
from behind a curtain, that will be more pure for your hearts 
and for their hearts. It is not fitting for you that ye give 
uneasiness to the Apostle of God " (Sec. xxxiii.). 

And again : " O prophet ! Speak unto thy wives and thy 
daughters, and the wives of the believers, that they throw 
around them a part of their mantles. This will be more seemly 
that they may not be subject to annoyance ; for God is gracious 
and merciful " (Sec. xxxiii.). 

The seclusion and veiling of women have become integral 
parts of Mohammedanism, and are practically essential where 
polygamy is practised, and where there is unlimited facility of 
remarriage and divorce. Men and women cannot be trusted 
to mingle freely when every man, married or unmarried, can 
look upon every woman, married or unmarried, as a possible 
g27 As the Moslem raiding still went on, the Meccans once more 

gathered their forces to attack Medina. Adjacent Arab tribes 
joined them, and they set out 10,000 strong. Mohammed had 
a large following, but did not venture to face so large an army 
in the field, and persuaded the people of Medina to dig a great 
trench round their city. The trench effectually checked the 


Meccans, and when they had demonstrated for some days, and 
found that the Moslems would not come out to fight them, the 
weather also being stormy, they went home. The last chance 
of breakmg Mohammed's power was thus wasted for lack of 
competent leadership. 

The Banu Kuraizah, the only Jewish tribe now remaining 
in Medina, had sympathised with the Meccans, though they 
did not dare to render them active assistance. On the depar- 
ture of the Meccan army Mohammed wreaked his vengeance 
on them. They were besieged, and after a brief resistance 
capitulated, expecting no greater doom than exile. But the 
order went forth, for the men death, for the women and 
children slavery. Trenches were dug in the market-place, 
and, Mohammed superintending, the captives were brought 
forth in companies, five or six at a time, their hands tied behind 
their backs, and, kneeling on the brink of the trench, were 
beheaded and cast in. One aged Jew was offered his life. 
" Nay," he said, " leave me not to that bloodthirsty man who 
has killed all dear to me. Slay me also, I entreat." And 
Mohammed answered, " Yea, let him join them in the fire of 
heU ". 

When eight hundred victims had been thus disposed of, 
and the earth smoothed over their remains, Mohammed re- 
turned from the massacre. He had been attracted by the 
beauty of Raihana, a captive Jewess, and she was set apart 
for him. He asked her to be his wife, but she said : " Nay, let 
me be thy slave ; it will be easier ". 

The frequent division of spoil among the Moslems made 
them rich, and induced many to join their ranks. The rest, 
terrified, held their peace. 

Having by these unscrupulous methods consolidated his 628. 
power at Medina, Mohammed turned towards Mecca. Six 
years had passed since he left that city, but his spies had kept 
him well informed of its concerns. His relatives were there, 
and there were some who argued that it would be better to 
come to terms with them. They were flattered when he 


acknowledged the sanctity of their city by turning towards it 
in prayer. The way in which Mohammed brought the Meccans 
over to his side is a strong argument against his sincerity. 
He found a way of grafting the worship of the Kaaba into 
his system, and thus showed how superficial was his objection 
to idolatry. He had but one God, it is true, but that God was 

Apparently oblivious of the fact that he was thus giving 
the lie to all the professions of his early life he now organised 
a pilgrimage to the Kaaba. Fifteen hundred men accompanied 
him, all professing to come as pilgrims, and with peaceful in- 
tent. But when they reached the precincts their way was barred 
by an armed force. Negotiations ensued, a truce was arranged, 
and an agreement entered into. Mohammed undertook to retire 
peacefully, on condition that he might return the year follow- 
ing. Mecca would then be evacuated for three days, and he 
and his followers, being unarmed, would be permitted to per- 
form the customary rites. 

Mohammed had acted wisely, but his followers grumbled, 
and he had to find a way of satisfying them. Accordingly he 
organised another plundering expedition, this time against 
Khaibar, the richest village in the province. Khaibar was a 
Jewish colony, and Mohammed's experience of the Jews had 
not impressed him with their fighting qualities. 

With 1,400 men Mohammed set out, and reached Khaibar 
by forced marches. The people were taken by surprise, but 
fought better than had been expected. At last they yielded. 
Khaibar was too far away to be occupied by his followers, so 
Mohammed left the villagers in their holdings, but made them 
subject to a tax of half their produce. Their portable goods he 
carried away as booty. Safiyah, a famous beauty, was re- 
served for his harem, her father, husband, and brothers having 
first been murdered in cold blood, lest they should stand in his 
way. A Jewess of Khaibar tried to poison him, but failed. 

The spoil of Khaibar made the Moslems rich, the more, as 
other villages, dreading attack, hastened to make terms. 


If we seek for a time when Islam became the open enemy 
of the human race we may find it now. Hitherto Mohammed 
might have pleaded necessity or revenge as an excuse for his 
iniquities. But Khaibar was 100 miles north of Medina, and 
its people had never crossed his path. He attacked it for 
plunder alone. 

That Mohammed's views regarding conquest were widening 
is shown by the fact that about this time he sent letters to 
various potentates, demanding that they should acknowledge 
his mission. Among the rulers thus distinguished were He- 
raclius, the Byzantine emperor ; Chosroes, king of Persia ; the 
king of Abyssinia, and the governor of Alexandria. A docu- 
ment has been discovered which may be the actual letter sent 
to Egypt, and the others were probably in the same vein. It 
is sealed with the words : " Mohammed, the prophet of God," 
and runs as follows : — 

" In the name of Allah, the Rahman, the Merciful. From the 
Apostle of Allah to the Mukaukis, chief of the Copts. Peace be 
upon him who follows the guidance. Next, I summon thee with 
the appeal of Islam. Become a Moslem and thou shalt be safe. 
God shall give thee thy reward twofold. But if thou decline, 
then on thee is the guilt of the Copts. O ye people of the 
Book, come unto an equal arrangement between us and you, 
that we should serve none save God, associating nothing with 
Him, and not taking one another for Lords besides God. And 
if ye decline, then bear witness that we are Moslems" (Mar- 
goliouth, Mohammed, p. 365). 

It is said that Heraclius received the letter politely, that 
Chosroes tore it up in a rage, and that the king of Abyssinia 
expressed agreement with Mohammed so far as he could under- 
stand his views. The governor of Alexandria gave the ambas- 
sador a favourable reception, and sent presents, a white mule 
and two Coptic maidens. Well pleased, Mohammed took Mary, 
one of the maidens, into his harem. It made trouble amongst 
his wives, but a revelation from heaven put that right. By- 
Mary he had a son, but the child died. 


629. The time had now come for the promised pilgrimage, and 

Mohammed set out at the head of 1,200 Moslems. Two hundred 
horsemen accompanied the party, bringing a stock of arms with 
them for fear of accidents. They waited on guard outside the 
sacred territory until the others had finished their pilgrimage, 
and then performed the ceremonies in their turn. 

The Meccans evacuated the city according to agreement, 
but stood on the surrounding heights watching the spectacle. 
Seven circuits of the Kaaba were made, Mohammed leading on 
his camel, the others following, all reciting together. Next day 
Bilal, the crier, summoned the pilgrims to prayer in Moslem 
fashion, and Mohammed led their devotions. It was a strange 
mixture of idolatry with the pretended worship of the one true 

During the three days spent in Mecca Mohammed had in- 
tercourse with leading citizens, and found arguments which 
conciliated some. Then he departed, taking with him another 
denizen for his harem. He had now ten wives and two concu- 
bines. The Koran allowed a maximum of four. 

Three important men joined Islam after these events; 
Khalid, who had fought so bravely at Uhud, Arar and Othman. 
Khalid and Amr became distinguished generals. Othman had 
been a leading chief in Mecca and custodian of the Kaaba. 
Mohammed now held a strong position, and Mecca was almost 
within his grasp. 



Mohammed's visit to Mecca had been in February, and during 629. 
the following summer he sent out several marauding expedi- 
tions. In the autumn he sent an expedition into Syria which 
proved of great importance, for it brought the Moslems into 
contact with Byzantium. One of the envoys who had gone 
fortli with the letters already mentioned had been slain, and 
Mohammed determined to avenge his death. Accordingly he 
collected 3,000 men and sent them forth under the command of 
Zaid. But the district invaded was under Byzantine protec- 
tion, and when the Moslems came within sight of the enemy 
they saw that they had to contend with a well-appointed force. 
They fell back on Mutah and there gave battle. In the 
enemy's centre were Byzantine infantry, and Arab cavalry on 
either flank. The Moslems fought well but were over-matched. 
Three leaders, Zaid, Jafar and Abdalla fell in succession, and 
Khalid, hastily chosen, could do no more than draw off" the 
beaten survivors and bring them home. 

Mohammed had made a ten years' truce with Mecca, but 
only waited a decent excuse for breaking it. This was pro- 
vided by a tribal quarrel in Mecca in which blood was shed* 
The aggrieved persons sought Mohammed's interposition, and 
he espoused their cause. Abu Sufyan was sent to Medina to 
represent the other side of the case, but found that Moham- 
med's mind was made up and that preparations for attacking 
Mecca were already begun. 

Mohammed set out for Mecca with 10,000 men. Abbas, his 

uncle, joined him on the road, and, as he neared the city, Abu 

Sufyan sought an interview. Clearly the Meccans had to 



choose between submission and destruction, and they chose to 
submit. A few desperate men held out but were soon chased 
away and the city was taken almost without bloodshed. 

Mohammed did not tarry long in the city. The images 
surrounding the Kaaba were broken down and the pictures 
defaced. Public prayer was performed in Moslem fashion. 
Orders were issued that household gods should be destroyed, 
and parties of soldiers went round to receive the submission of 
the adjacent villages. 

Though Mohammed destroyed the images he perpetuated 
the sanctity of Mecca. He saluted the Kaaba and made the 
seven circuits in the prescribed way. The figures were re- 
moved, but the Kaaba was as much an object of worship as 
ever. And so it remains. The change made by Mohammed 
was but a change of ritual. Mecca with its Kaaba and its 
round of ceremonies has never ceased to be a centre of idola- 
trous worship. 

630. The fall of Mecca made a sensation throughout Arabia. 

The first to be affected were the inhabitants of Taif. Their 
city was near Mecca, and having driven Mohammed from it 
with stones they expected little quarter. Accordingly they 
besought the help of adjacent tribes. Mohammed marched 
against the confederation, and a battle was fought in the Valley 
of Hunain. The Moslems won the day, but not without con- 
siderable loss. The booty was enormous. Taif was then be- 
sieged, but the city was well fortified and provisioned and made 
a brave resistance, until Mohammed at last lost patience and 
raised the siege. Afterwards the citizens of Taif thought better 
of it, and sent deputies to Medina to tender their submission. 

630. This year a son was born to Mohammed by Mary the Copt, 

but the child only lived eleven months. There were domestic 
jars in the prophet's household which would not be worthy of 
mention in a history but that he settled them by a revelation 
which is preserved in the Koran. The prophet's wives were 
warned that if they remained obstinate he might divorce them 
and marry a new set. 


Mohammed had not quite maintained his early popularity. 
There had been grumblino-, especially when spoil was divided. 
Mohammed had a way of buying new friends with great gifts, 
which tried the faith of the older ones. After the battle of 
Hunain he was mobbed. The domestic scandals also tried the 
faith of the more respectable of the believers. For these 
reasons, and because also rumours reached him of hostile 
gatherings on the Syrian frontier, he resolved upon a military 
demonstration which would surpass anything yet attempted 
and divert the minds of his followers. Between 30,000 and 
40,000 men were collected, and a march northwards was begun. 
After a most fatiguing journey they reached Tabuk, a city not 
far from the Gulf of Akaba. There they learned that the 
rumours of hostile gatherings were false. That the expedition 
might not be wholly in vain Mohammed persuaded some of the 
adjacent communities to promise allegiance, others tribute. 
Then they marched back. 

Next year 300 pilgrims set out for Mecca with Abu Bekr 631. 
as chief. This was the first pilgrimage presided over by a 
Moslem official. Ali accompanied them to read a manifesto to 
the assembled tribes, said to be a revelation from God to his 
apostle. The tribes were warned that after four months they 
would remain idolaters at their peril. The instructions were as 
follows : — 

" And when the forbidden months have elapsed, then fight 
against the idolaters, wheresoever ye find them ; take them 
captive, besiege them, and lay in wait for them in every 
ambush ". The Meccan pilgrimage was also from henceforth to 
be purified from the presence of unbelievers. 

News of the manifesto spread throughout Arabia and the 
tribes hastened to conform, dreading the consequences of delay. 
When once submission became the fashion, men made haste 
lest rivals might obtain an advantage. A title from Moham- 
med was now essential to peaceful occupation of ten'itory, and 
as he was ignorant of local conditions those who came first 
were best served. 


The destruction of images soon ceased to be a difficulty. 
The Arab was not a religious man in any case. He had wor- 
shipped his fathers' gods as a filial duty, but since Mohammed's 
god was stronger, he did not hesitate to change. And when it 
was found that the household gods did not retaliate upon their 
destroyers iconoclasm became popular. 

Amongst those who came to make peace with Mohammed 
at this time were deputies from Najran, an Arabian Christian 
community. The deputation included the chief man of the 
community and the bishop. They wished to show Mohammed 
how near he was to Christianity, and to discuss the points of 
difference. But Mohammed would have none of their discus- 
sions, and fell back upon revelation. When they were still un- 
moved he proposed a cursing match. " Come," said he, " let us 
curse each the other." The Christians declined this way of 
settling theological disputes, fearing lest Mohammed's curses 
might be carried into effect by Moslem swords. They therefore 
agreed to pay tribute in the usual way. The Najran Chris- 
tians remained in possession of their lands until the caliphate 
of Omar. He expelled them from Arabia, and some settled in 
Syria, some near Kufa. With another Christian embassy Mo- 
hammed made terms, permitting them upon payment of tribute 
to profess their religion, but forbidding them to baptise their 

In various ways Mohammed made it clear that Christianity 
must expect no quarter. The oppressions to which Christians 
were subjected were so serious, and the temptations held out to 
converts to Islam so enticing, that most were drawn to the new 
faith. Such as professed Islam paid a moderate tithe, the Jews 
or Christians paid sometimes ten times as much. Christians 
were held in semi-slavery, and soon disappeared from Arabia. 

When tribes submitted to Islam, Mohammed did not inter- 
fere with their local government. The chiefs were confirmed 
in their rights, only two officials were sent, one to collect the 
taxes, the other to conduct religious services. 

The manifesto read at Mecca by Ali had served its purpose 


well, and Islam had now such a powerful position that Moham- 
med resolved to conduct the next pilgrimage himself. Accord- 
ingly when the time came round he set out accompanied by his 
household, and followed by a great multitude of people. He 
performed the ceremonies with special care, that they might be 
a standard for all succeeding time. 

On the second day of the pilgrimage Mohammed addressed 
the people, sitting on his camel in the Mina valley. Fragments 
of the discourse have been preserved, and if they are a fair 
sample there was little worth preserving. The paragraph 
concerning the treatment of women runs as follows : — 

" Ye people ! ye have rights demandable of your wives, and 
they have rights demandable of you. Upon them it is incumbent 
not to violate their conjugal faith, neither to commit any act of 
open impropriety ; — which things if they do, ye have authority 
to shut them up in separate apartments and beat them with 
stripes, yet not severely . . . and treat your women well, for 
they are with you as captives and prisoners ; they have not 
power over anything as regards themselves." 

Mohammed abolished the intercalary method by which 
Arabian scientists had adjusted the calendar. He declared that 
the changing of the months was an excess of infidelity, and 
ordained that the year should consist of twelve lunar months. 
The Arabian month, therefore, guides as to the condition of the 
moon but not as to the season of the year. 

The profession of Islam made the Arabians more peaceful 
among themselves. Mohammed insisted that all Moslems 
should be brethren. This meant much in Arabia where blood 
feuds had been so common. Unfortunately though Moslem 
might not war with Moslem, he might war with the rest of the 

Mohammed was now a busy man. He kept the reins of 
government in his own hands, and did not spare himself. He 
received deputies, sent out embassies, and dictated correspond- 
ence. He also administered justice, settled the law, and led 
the public worship. His life had been a hard one, and in his 


632. sixty-third year his health showed signs of breaking down. 
Nevertheless, knowing how necessary it was to keep his 
followers occupied, he organised an expedition against the 
Byzantines to avenge the defeat at Mutah, An army was 
gathered, and Osama, son of that Zaid who had been killed at 
Mutah, was made general. Before the army could set out 
Mohammed was taken ill. His wives said it was pleurisy, and 
he said it was poison. It may have been typhoid, for he was 
careless about what he drank, having a theory that water could 
not be contaminated. For several days he struggled to keep 
on his feet, then he prescribed a cold douche for himself. Con- 
vulsions followed, he rapidly sank, and on 7th June died. 

The death of Mohammed caused much excitement. Omar 
went into a frenzy, but Abu Bekr kept his head and calmed the 
people. Some of the Moslems had evidently believed that their 
prophet would be immortal. That afternoon the citizens of 
Medina met to appoint a leader from among themselves, deter- 
mined to be no longer under the dominion of the refugees. 
Abu Bekr and Omar hurried to the meeting, and showed them 
that this would end in chaos, and after a stormy discussion 
they chose Abu Bekr himself. He had already been indicated 
by Mohammed as his successor, having been instructed to lead 
public prayer during his illness. 

Abu Bekr was the best choice possible. Had any other 
been chosen Islam would assuredly have fallen to pieces. But 
the choice did not give universal satisfaction. Some thought 
that Ali, Mohammed's cousin and son-in-law, should have been 
his successor. 

Mohammed's body lay in state for twenty-four hours, and 
was then buried in the house of Ayesha, his favourite wife. 
Abu Bekr, her father, was afterwards buried in the same apart- 
ment, and in time Omar also. Ayesha survived Mohammed 
forty-seven years. 

The character of Mohammed has given rise to much con- 
troversy. To us he seems to have been a man who had his 
chance and missed it. In the beginning of his career he had a 


certain .spiritual insight. He learned a truth, he saw further 
than some. Had he taught what he learned with humility, 
God would have given him more light, and he would have be- 
come a prophet indeed. But he put his own glory on an 
equality with that of God, and the light that was in him be- 
came darkness. And how great was that darkness ! Since 
the world began no man has so blighted humanity. Moham- 
med taught Arabia that there was one God, but the God that 
he revealed was not the God that rules in heaven. The God of 
ignorance, of immorality, of slavery, of assassination, of truce 
breaking, of rapine, of bloody war, that was Mohammed's God. 
And the heaven that he dangled before the eyes of his followers, 
was but a house of ill-fame. To crown all, Mohammed con- 
centrated his teaching in " revelations " which he declared to be 
communicated to him by the Divine Being, knowing well, for he 
must have known it, that he was forging the name of the Most 

The most wonderful thing about Islam seems to us to be 
its permanence. There was nothing wonderful in the estab- 
lishment of a new religion. Nor was the rapid spread of 
Mohammedanism wonderful. The exhaustion of Byzantium 
and Persia sufficiently accounted for that. But the wonder to 
us is that in the twentieth century there should still be found 
educated men revering the memory of one so worthless. 

It is a mistake to imagine that Mohammedanism is an 
advance on idolatry. It is itself idolatry of a peculiarly de- 
grading type, the worship of a bad book and a bad man. As 
for the God whose name is so constantly on Moslem lips, he is 
not in all their thoughts. 

The fruits of Mahommedanism and of idol-worship can be 
seen, and the merits of the systems compared in countries like 
British India, where the two religions live side by side. There 
the Moslem is either a soldier or a servant ; positions demanding 
special intelligence are generally filled by the Hindu. The 
Moslem is backward because he is denied freedom of thought ; 
is doomed to starve his intelligence, his heart and his spirit 


upon a worthless book ; and is tied to a code of legislation and 
a system of worship which originated in the mind of a common- 
minded, ignorant man. The Hindu, on the other hand, has 
freedom of thought. He worships the gods of his fathers, but 
if he is intelligent, they are little more to him than the patron 
saint is to the Catholic ; the true adoration of his heart goes 
out to the Supreme Being. 

Above all, the Hindu realises his sinfulness before God, and 
seeks the Divine mercy with an earnestness which might often 
put Christians to shame. And though he may think very 
imperfectly, and the cry for mercy may ascend from a poor 
ignorant heart, yet, because it is from the heart, we dare not 
doubt but that the God who knows the heart hears the cry. 
For the Moslem there is no self-abnegation, no true repentance, 
scarcely any sense of sin. Wrapped in his self-satisfied bigotry 
he stands, thanking God that he is not as other men. Lust 
and murder his sacred book allows, and if there be any other 
crime, it is paid for by the eternal parrot-cry : " There is one 
God, and Mohammed is his prophet ". 



Mohammed was dead, and Abu Bekr now reigned. He was 632. 
father of Ayesha, a man of about the same age as the prophet, 
and his staunch friend almost from the beginning. He believed 
in Mohammed, yet just what he did believe it might be hard 
to say. Mohammed had no confidants, and Abu Bekr was not 
an accomplice but a disciple. 

We have said that some would have preferred that Ali 
should have succeeded. He seemed to have even a better claim 
upon the office than Abu Bekr. He had joined Mohammed 
when a boy of eleven, he also had been staunch, he was 
husband of Fatima, and their children, Hasan and Hosein, had 
been greatly beloved by Mohammed. Believers in hereditary 
succession supported All's claim, and looked on Abu Bekr as 
a usurper. Ali did not press his claims, but he was not 
cordial. Fatima, however, died within the year, and Ali then 
fell in with the majority. But the feeling in favour of his 
claims did not pass away, and we shall see later how, em- 
bittered by subsequent events, it led to a permanent cleavage 
in Islam. 

Abu Bekr's first action was to send Osama to Syria on the 
expedition which Mohammed had proposed. It seemed a rash 
thing to do, for it left Medina defenceless, and it was quite 
possible that the death of Mohammed might be followed by a 
revolution. But Abu Bekr thought the boldest course the 
safest, and he proved to be right. Osama hastened to Syria, 
avenged Mutah, and returned triumphant, laden with tooty, 
and ready for fresh service. 

Throughout the peninsula there was much apostasy. The 



tribes had never relished the supremacy of Mecca and Medina, 
and they now made a determined effort to shake it off. They 
would pray as the caliph saw fit, but they would not pay 
taxes. But Abu Bekr refused to compromise. Summoning 
tlie faithful to his standard, and dividing Arabia into districts, 
he sent out flying columns to subdue the rebellious. The 
heaviest work fell on Khalid, the chief who had already dis- 
tinguished himself at Mutah by saving the defeated forces 
from annihilation. Khalid swept Central Arabia with the 
sword and overcame all opposition. He was cruel and utterly 
unscrupulous. He attacked a submissive tribe because its 
chief had a beautiful wife, slew the chief in cold blood, and 
wedded his wife on the spot. Complaint went to Medina, and 
Omar was full of wrath, for the chief was a friend of his, but 
Abu Bekr dared not dispense with so useful a soldier as Khalid, 
and condoned the crime. 

The expeditions sent to other parts of Arabia were almost 
equally successful, and within a year of Mohammed's death 
Islam was re-established. Not that the Arabs were loyal 
at heart. But they saw that the yoke could not be easily 
shaken off, and fear kept them quiet. Just then Abu Bekr, 
consciously or unconsciously, took a step which changed the 
whole aspect of affairs and welded Islam into one. 

Arabia is surrounded on three sides by the sea. Northward 
lies Syria and the districts watered by the Tigris and Euphrates. 
The more southern of these districts, that lying on the Arabian 
frontier, was called Irak of the Arabians to distinguish it from 
Persia or Irak of the Persians. Very little of the stretch of 
country lying between Arabia and the Black Sea was indepen- 
dent. It was subject either to Byzantium or Persia, and its 
suzerainty had been a source of contention between the empires 
for centuries. Both empires were now extremely weak. Hera- 
clius, the Byzantine emperor, had indeed done wonders for a 
time. He had galvanised Byzantium into activity, and had 
destroyed the power of Chosroes, king of Persia. But he had 
now broken down physically, and was no longer able to take 


the field. The financial resources of both Byzantium and 
Persia were greatly impaired ; their subjects were discon- 
tented ; and wlien collision with the border tribes led Abu 
Bekr to send troops into the realms governed by these empires, 
neither empire could render serious resistance. The moment 
was opportune. 

The kindling of the fire of foreign war had a result which 
Abu Bekr could scarcely have foreseen. It united Arabia. The 
first battles were successful ; wonderful stories of spoil to be 
had for the taking spread through the peninsula ; and tribe 
after tribe, scenting plunder, offered its services to the caliph, 
and hastened northward eager for the fray. SuUenness gave 
place to loyalty : all were willing to fight for Islam, now that 
fighting for Islam meant rapine, outrage and spoil. 

Khalid went north-west and fought his way through Irak 633. 
Arabi. The carnage was frightful, many towns were 'sacked, 
others surrendered, promising yearly tribute. 

Whilst Khalid was carrying all before him in Irak, the 
campaign in the West against the Byzantines and their Bedouin 
allies was less successful. Heraclius sent an immense force to 
the front, and the Moslems were checked. The armies faced 
one another on the Yermuk River, east of the Sea of TilDerias. 
When much time had been spent in skirmishing, without de- 
finite result, Abu Bekr ordered Khalid to cross the desert and 
bring matters to a conclusion. On his arrival he forced a 634. 
battle, and though the Moslems were greatly .outnumbered they 
fought with such determination that the Bj^zantines were 
utterly overthrown. During the battle Khahd received a letter 
informing him that Abu Bekr was dead, and that Omar, his 
successor, had deprived him of his command. 

In his short reign Abu Bekr had done gi'eat things for 
Islam. He had quelled the insurrection in Arabia and hum- 
bled two empires in the dust. Moreover, the Bedouin tribes 
of Syria, hitherto hostile, now only waited a chance to join the 
Moslems and share the plunder. 
VOL. II. 27 




Under Rustein, a general of Khorasan, the Persians put 
forth their utmost strength. In the first encounter the Mos- 
lems were driven back, 4,000 being slain. But reinforcements 
reached them, and under Motanna, their general, they overthrew 
the Persians at Boweib, near Kufa. The Persians did not yet 
give up the struggle. Their young prince, Yezdegird, was placed 
on the throne, and the nobles rallied round. Motanna had to 
fall back, and died before he could turn the tide. But Moslem 
reinforcements arrived, and at Kadesia one of the most terrible 
of battles was fought. It lasted three days, and the Persians 
were utterly overthrown, Rustem was slain, Yezdegird fled. 
The spoil was immense. After Kadesia the Persians ceased to 
be dangerous, and the Bedouin tribes, hesitating no longer, 
hastened to join the Moslem ranks. 

The Moslems now marched on Damascus. The city held 
out for some months, but an entrance was made, and the By- 
zantine governor capitulated in time to save the city from 
being sacked. Other cities fell in quick succession, Fihl 
(Bella), Hems (Emesa), Aleppo, and at last Antioch. Heraclius 
tried to rally the tribes in vain. 

Immensely encouraged by their success the Moslems now 
turned upon Palestine, the chief cities of which were still gar- 
risoned by Byzantine troops. Amr, a Moslem general, defeated 
the Byzantines at Ajnadein and drove them back on Jerusalem. 
Gaza, Lydda and Joppa feU, and at last Amr laid siege to Jeru- 
salem itself. The Byzantine general lost heart and withdrew 
to Egypt, and the patriarch sued for peace. Influenced by an 
old prophecy he asked that the caliph should himself come to 
receive the surrender, and Omar crossed the desert. The terms 
of the surrender were humiliating, but the Christians had no 
choice. Though severe, Omar was not cruel, for Jerusalem 
was venerated by the Moslems, standing next to Mecca in their 
regard. In later years the law concerning the treatment of 
Jews and Christians in Moslem countries became exceedingly 
intolerant, and was regulated by a so-called " ordinance of 
Omar ". But Omar was not responsible for this ordinance. It 


was of slow growth, and is still law in Mohammedan countries, 
though not often carried out. During his stay in Jerusalem 
Omar selected a site for a mosque, made arrangements for the 
government of Syria, and planned an invasion of Egypt. 

Soon all Syria was lost to Christendom. It may seem 
strange that it should have fallen so quickly. But Byzantium 
had little hold upon the affections of its subject populations, the 
Jews and Christians were ever at variance, and the Christians 
were at variance amongst themselves. The subject peoples, 
moreover, hoped that the Moslems might prove more indulgent 
masters than the Byzantines. 

In Persia further progress was also made. Under the 
leadership of Sad the Moslems crossed the Euphrates and 
cleared the country as far as the Tigris. They then advanced 
on the royal city of Medain (Ctesiphon), through which the 
Tigris flowed. Yezdegird abandoned the western city and 
offered to surrender all territory west of the Tigris if the Mos- 
lems would leave him the east. It was a fair offer, but the 
Moslems would not accept it. They crossed the river by swim- 
ming, and the Persians fled panic-stricken. The spoil of 
Medain was rich beyond conception. When the more distin- 
guished had been rewarded, and the treasury had received its 
share, there remained enough to make the soldiers independent 
for life. 

Omar would not allow a further advance into Persia at that 
time. But afterwards the Moslems captured Sus (Shushan) 
and Yezdegird made another effort. The battle of Nevahend 
followed, the Persians were utterly routed, and the famous city 
of Hamadan fell into Moslem hands. The country was re- 642. 
duced province by province, Yezdegird was ch-iven across the 
Oxus and assassinated. With him the male line of the Sassi- 651. 
nides became extinct after ruling Persia for four centuries. 
Great inducements were held out to the Persians to profess 
Islam, and by degrees it became the religion of tlie people. 

The extraordinary success of the Moslem arms was followed 
by a constantly increasing national revenue and necessitated 


new arrangements for division of the spoil. Omar therefore 
organised a diwan or exchequer charged with the distribution 
of the booty. A register was prepared for each tribe, and the 
booty was divided according to fixed rules. The revenue was 
enormous, for to spoil had to be added tribute, tithes and 
assessment of confiscated lands. The Arab race was living 
upon robbery and blackmail, and the proceeds were divided 
as scrupulously as if the wealth had been earned by honest 
trading. The income of the nation depended on successful 
war, and the chief who could add the spoil of a city or the 
tribute of a province to the treasury was a public benefactor. 
The reduction of Chaldaea and Syria led to the development 
of two cities, Bassora, in the delta of the Euplirates, and Kufa, 
near Hira, south of Babylon. These cities were meant to be 
advanced posts and were riclily endowed with confiscated lands. 
Tempted by the endowments many Arabs migrated to them, 
and they became large and important. They also became hot- 
beds of sedition and discontent. Kufa is now a ruin, Bassora 
still exists. 

640. The Moslem eye now fell covetously on Egypt. This 
country, formerly the granary of Rome, was now the granary 
of Constantinople, and Alexandria, its capital, was the second 
city in the Byzantine empire. The capital was cosmopolitan 
and luxurious, but over the rest of the country there dwelt a 
poor, hard-working people, ground down by taxation, and 
thoroughly disloyal. From the Egyptian people as a whole, 
therefore, Amr, who commanded the Moslem forces, met with 
little opposition, and soon he was able to lay siege to Alex- 
andria. Heraclius died during the progress of this siege, and 

641. as no help came from Byzantium, the citizens surrendered, and 
promised to pay tribute, on condition that the city should not 
be sacked. 

Amr would have made Alexandria the seat of government 
for Egypt, but Omar thought it too far away, and an encamp- 
ment was formed near Memphis, called Fostat at the first, but 
afterwards Cairo. Some years later, during the caliphate of 


Othman, the Byzantines succeeded in wresting Alexandria 
from the Moslems. Amr besieged it the second time, and 
when at length he took it by storm, he sacked the city, and 646. 
razed its fortifications to the ground The seat of government 
was then finally removed to Cairo. 

When Mohammed died his so-called revelations existed 
only in a very fragmentary form. Some were written on 
palm leaves, some on mutton bones, some more permanently. 
Moliammed had made no collection, nor any arrangement for 
preserving his sayings. Some Moslems knew portions of " the 
reading," for this is the meaning of the word Koran, by heart, 
but they were a decreasing number. Omar, therefore, fearing 
that the revelations would be lost, commissioned Zeid, who had 
been one of Mohammed's secretaries, to collect the fragments 
and embody them in a volume. Zeid did so. He was pains- 
taking, but his work was crude, and there was difference of 
opinion concerning some of the readings. Othman, who suc- 
ceeded Omar, appointed a revision committee, therefore, with 
Zeid as chairman, and a canonical copy was prepared. To 
prevent fm-ther disputes, the other codices were burned. 

When Omar was in his sixtieth year, having reigned ten 644. 
years, a Persian captive, who had become a Moslem, appealed 
to him for justice against his master. Omar refused to inter- 
fere, and next day in the mosque the man stabbed him mor- 
tally. Omar lingered for several days, and tried to make 
arrangements as to his successor. When Abd al Rahman, 
whom he thought most fitting, refused the ofiice, Omar asked 
Ali, Othman, Zabeir and Sad, to consult with Abd al Rahman, 
and choose one of their number. Then he died, and was bm-ied 
in the house of Ayesha, where Abu Bekr and Mohammed 
already lay. 

Words ran high between members of the electoral committee, 
but at length the choice lay between Ali and Othman. Ali had 
been husband of Fatima, the daughter of jVIohammed, who was 
dead ; Othman had been the hasband of Rukayyah and Umm 
Kulthum, both daughters of Mohammed, but dead also. Ali 


was favoured, for he had two sons, of whom Mohammed had 
been fond, but as he made difficulties concerning the principles 
which were to guide him in governing, Othman was chosen 

We have said that there were many Moslems who believed 
that the caliphate should have descended in Mohammed's family 
line, and who thought Abu Bekr and Omar usurpers. Such 
persons were now doubly exasperated when Ali was again 
passed over. Both Othman and he were of the Kuraish, but 
Ali was a Hashim, and Othman was an Omnieyad, Mohammed 
had been a Hashim, and Abu Sufyan, his chief opponent for 
so long, was an Ommeyad. There was an old rivalry between 
the families, the present dispute intensified it, and gradually, 
as we shall see, it led to results of the most lamentable 

Othman had another source of discontent to deal with. 
The Arab tribes did most of the fighting, the men of Mecca 
and Medina got most of the plunder. They claimed a virtual 
monopoly of the official positions and governorships, and looked 
upon themselves as the aristocracy of Islam. Othman was too 
much under their influence, he laid himself open to the charge 
of nepotism, and soon became unpopular. There were rebel- 
■ lions here and there, and he did not grasp the nettle. Indeed 
he was too old for the caliphate. Kufa and Bassora were now, 
as always, centres of discontent ; Egypt was seriously dis- 
affected. Muavia, the governor of Syria, son of Abu Sufyan, 
and nephew of Othman, was loyal, but ho was far away. He 
warned Ali to protect the old man, but Ali nursed his grievance 
and let things slide. Disaffection spread, insurgent bands 
marched on Medina and demanded the abdication of Othman. 
656. The caliph's house was stormed and he was slain. Ali might 
have saved him, but made little effort. Muavia had sent forces 
to his help, but, hearing of his death on the march, they re- 
turned home. 

During Othman's caliphate we hear for the first time of a 
Moslem fleet. Omar dreaded the sea, and forbade Muavia to 


build ships. Othman withdrew the prohibition, and a fleet 
was built. Its first exploit was the capture of Cyprus. Three 649. 
years later a Moslem fleet defeated a Byzantine one at 

During Othman's caliphate also, after Alexandria had been 
lost and again captured, the Moslem arms were carried success- 
fully along the northern coast of Africa, almost to Carthage. 



656. The assassination of Othman was a senseless crime. An old 
man of eighty, he would not long have stood between his rivals 
and their ambition. His murder caused widespread diso-ust. 
His blood-stained garment wrapped round the severed fingers 
of Naila, a faithful wife who had tried to ward off the fatal 
blow, was carried to Damascus. Muavia hung the garment 
and fingers on the mosque pulpit, and the spectacle roused the 
worshippers to frenzy. 

For some days anarchy reigned in Medina. There was no 
caliph, and, as two had been assassinated in succession, it was 
not easy to get any one to occupy the fatal post. Three names 
were proposed : Zobeir, who was favoured in Kufa ; Talha 
favoured in Bassora ; and Ali. Ali was the most likely, but 
much as he had coveted the post before, he now dreaded it. 
Zobeir and Talha were equally reluctant. At last Ali was 
persuaded, and Talha and Zobeir swore allegiance. 

No sooner had Ali become caliph than his troubles began. 
Zobeir, Talha and other leaders demanded office, and when they 
did not at once obtain it they stirred up malice against Ali. 
They now clamoured for vengeance on the murderers of Oth- 
man, though not one of them had supported him whilst he 
lived, or tried to save him when he died. Ali pointed out the 
helplessness of his position. The insurgents who had slain 
Othman had come from many parts, from Kufa, Bassora, 
Egypt. How could he track them down ? Moreover, he knew 
the hypocrisy underlying the demand. 

Zobeir and Talha now went to Mecca and made that city 

a centre of intrigue. Ayesha was there, " the mother of the 



faithful ". She detested Ali, against whom she had an old 
grudge. His promotion filled hei with bitterness, and though 
she had conspired against Othman whilst he lived, she gladly 
joined Zobeir and Talha in trying to overthrow his successor. 
Ali, brave in the field, was a poor diplomatist, not a good pilot 
for the ship of state in stormy weather. 

The ablest man in the empire at this time was Muavia, the 
governor of Syria. We have said that he was a son of Abu 
Sufyan, and nephew of Othman. He had been governor of 
Cyprus and had captured Rhodes. Omar had appointed him 
governor of Syria, and Othman continued him in authority. 
Othman had allowed him to build a fleet, and now the name of 
Arabian was feared in the Eastern Mediterranean. Since the 
death of Othman Muavia's influence had greatly increased. 

All's wisest counsellors advised him not to meddle with 
Muavia, but Ali hated him and refused to confirm him in his 
governorship " even for a day ". Accordingly he sent another 
governor in his place. But Muavia declined to relinquish his 
command, and the substitute was glad to escape with his life. 

War with Muavia was now inevitable, but before Ali could 
cross swords with him he had to deal with rebellion nearer 
home. Ayesha, Zobeir and Talha set out from Mecca with a 
rebel army and seized Bassora. Ali followed them, and at 
Kariba, near Bassora, the famous " battle of the camel " was 
fought, so named because Ayesha was present throughout 
seated on a camel and protected by an iron cage. The carnage 
was great. Talha, Zobeir and 10,000 with them were slain. 
Ali was victorious. Ayesha, treated with a courtesy which she 
little deserved, was sent to Medina to end her days in peace. 

After the victory of Bassora Ali changed the seat of govern- 657. 
ment from Medina to Kufa. From Kufa he marched against 
Muavia, who, now entirely alienated, had assumed the title of 
caliph. Making a circuit, Ali invaded Syria from the north, 
and encountered the army of Muavia at Siffin on the Eu- 
phrates. After much desultory fighting there was a pitched 
battle. It lasted for three days, and Ali was on the point of 


victory. Seeing this Muavia furnished his foremost troopers 
with sheets of the Koran which they fixed upon their lances, 
shouting " The law of the Lord, let that decide between us ". 
Ali's troops, glad of an excuse to end the fray, joined in the 
shout, and thus victory was snatched away. Arbitrators were 
appointed ; Muavia got eight months breathing space, and the 
arbitration came to nought. Worse than all, Ali by entering 
into the negotiation displeased a section of his soldiers whom 
he could ill afford to lose. These were the Karejites, who seem 
to have been a kind of Moslem Puritans. They did not make 
the allowances for Ali which they well might have done, and 
658. went home in wrath. Next year when Ali again took the 
field against Muavia the Karejites refused to join him and 
stirred up an insurrection. Ali had to begin the campaign, 
therefore, by marching against them, and by the time they had 
been disposed of, his Arab forces were tired of the war and 
could not be held together. The expedition against Muavia 
had consequently to be abandoned. 

At this time Ali also lost Egypt. He had acted unwisely 
in changing the governor twice. The second governor, Moham- 
med, son of Abu Bekr, and brother of Ayesha, was not a strong 
man, and Amr, the former conqueror and governor of Egypt, 
easily wrested the province from him. The loss of Egypt 
preyed upon Ali's mind. He made overtures to Muavia for 
peace, and would have recognised the divided caliphate, but 
Muavia felt now so sure of ultimate success that he was un- 
willing to share the empire. 

There were now three rulers in Islam, Ali at Kufa, Muavia 
at Damascus, and Amr in Egypt. They were competent men ; 
and, in the interest of good government, the division was not 
unsatisfactory. But Muavia and Ali could not agree, and in- 
cessant war went on. Men were distracted with the divided 
condition of Islam and wondered how it could be reunited. At 
last three zealots, desperate men, entered into a conspiracy to 
destroy the chief actors in the drama. Ali, Muavia and Amr 
were marked for destruction, and simultaneous attempts were 


made on their lives in the mosques of Kufa, Damascus and 
Fostat (Cairo). The day chosen was Friday, the 17th of the 
month Ramadan, the occasion morning prayer, Amr was not 
officiating on that day so he escaped, and his deputy was killed ; 
Muavia was severely wounded, but survived ; Ali was killed. 
He was sixty years of age, and had reigned for five years. 

AJi had many good qualities ; he was a brave man, and he 
had been most faithful to Mohammed. But he lacked personal 
magnetism, and had not the spirit and determination necessary 
for grappling with the difficulties of his position. He made a 
fatal mistake in not supporting Othman. Had he waited until 
the old man died in the course of nature, he would have been 
chosen as successor with general approval. Ali was not very 
popular while he lived, and after his death for a generation 
he was held of little account. But as time went on the hard 
luck of the man, and the cruel fate of his progeny, raised a 
feeling of profound sympathy with the family, and Ali, who 
had been made little of during his life, received almost divine 
honours in after years. 

Ali left two sons, Hasan and Hosein, and Hasan, the elder, 
was chosen as caliph. He was a man of loose character and 
little merit and is said to have exercised the Moslem power of 
divorce seventy times. He loved an easy life, and felt himself 
no match for Muavia. Accordingly he abdicated in his favour 
on condition that he should have protection for his relatives 
and a handsome pension for himself. He then retired into 
private life at Medina where he was poisoned some years after 
by one of his wives. Tradition declares that Muavia insti- 
gated the deed, and Hasan's name is accordingly coupled with 
that of Hosein as a martyr. But there is no sufficient reason 
for believing that Muavia had anything to do with his death. 

Muavia was now sole caliph, with his capital in Damascus. 
Though not at first universally acknowledged, he gradually 
overcame all opposition, and the dynasty of the Ommeyads 
which he founded lasted for nearly a century. The capital 
being in Syria, the relative importance of Arabia, and with 


it of Mecca and Medina, declined, until they became little 
more than they are to-day, interesting places for the resort of 

Muavia was well served by his generals, and was successful 
in foreign affairs. In the East much progress was made. 
Herat was stormed, and Kabul, Ghazni, Balkh and Candahar 
also fell. Then the Moslems crossed the Oxus and conquered 
Bokhara. Two years later the Turks were driven out of 
Khorasan. Other Moslem generals penetrated to the Indus. 

In North Africa also the Moslem arms were successful. A 
formidable army passed from Syria to Alexandria, and then 
westward towards Tunis. A hundred miles south of ancient 

677. Carthage, Okba, the Moslem general, founded the settlement 
of Kairwan, and strongly fortified it. Some years later he 
carried his arms victoriously westward through Algiers and 
Morocco, until he reached the Atlantic. But when he turned 
he found that the Berbers had risen in his rear, and in the pass 
of Tehuda his army was surrounded and almost annihilated. 

During Muavia's caliphate the Saracens made their first 
attempt to capture Constantinople. A vast armament was 
prepared and sent against tlie city under the leadership of 
Yezid, Muavia's eldest son. Muavia hoped that Yezid would 
gain glory from the enterprise. But no glory was gained. 
Constantinople was as yet too strong for the Moslem arms, 
and although the war lingered for several years, and the 
districts surrounding the city were ravaged again and again, 
the besiegers could make no impression upon the city itself. 
Slowly the attacking army melted away under the influence 
of disease and battle, and at last retreat became imperative. 
The retreat was not less disastrous than the siege. The fleet 
was broken to pieces by storms, and the land army, discouraged 
and demoralised, was cut to pieces by the pursuing Byzantine 

678. troops. Muavia was now thankful to make a treaty with 
Byzantium, and even to promise tribute in return for peace. 

As the election of caliph had given rise to so much trouble 
in the past, and Muavia was anxious that his son Yezid should 


succeed him, he declared him heir-apparent, and required the 
chief of the people to swear allegiance. Most did this without 
demur, a few refused, amongst whom were Hosein, son of Ali, 
and Abdalla, son of Zobeir. 

Muavia died at the age of seventy-five, and was buried in 680. 
Damascus. He had failed at Constantinople, but otherwise 
his caliphate had been to the glory of Islam. 

Yezid now became caliph without election, though not 
without trouble. Abdalla, son of Zobeir, raised the standard 
of revolt at Medina. Hosein retired to Mecca, where he was 
surrounded by friends. 

The people of Kufa sent embassies begging Hosein to 
claim his rights, and promising enthusiastic support. Hosein 
had little contidence in them, but when embassy after embassy 
came, and a list of more than 100,000 supposed supporters was 
placed in his hands he thought he might take the risk. Ac- 
cordingly he set out for Kufa with his entire household, and a 
trifling body-guard of forty horse and a hundred foot. 

Before Hosein reached Kufa he was met by friends from 
whom he learned that he had made a mistake. The governor 
of the city had called the people together and warned them 
of the consequences of revolt, and their courage evaporated. 
Yezid also had heard of Hosein's enterprise, and had taken his 

Still Hosein went on, not towards Kufa indeed, but skirt- 
ing the district. He felt that retreat was impossible, and 
hoped that those who had invited him would not prove utterly 
faithless. But his hopes were not fulfilled. Instead of friends, 
foes met him, and at Kerbela, twenty-five miles north of Kufa, 
his little band was surrounded by 4,000 men. He might 
perhaps have even yet saved his life by laying down his 
arms, and taking the oath of allegiance to Yezid, but he pre- 
ferred to die. He begged his followers to consult their own 
safety by retiring, but they refused to abandon him, and 
indeed thirty men actually deserted from Yezid's ranks and 
joined his devoted band. 


Next day, the tenth of Moharram, the tiny force was sur- 
rounded. They made a rampart and fought desperately, 200 
against 4,000, but were cut down until all but a few women and 
children lay dead on the field, Hosein was the last to be 
slain. Seventy heads, including his, were carried to Kufa, and 
thrown at the governor's feet. " Gently," said an aged specta- 
tor, " it is the prophet's grandson. By the Lord ! I have seen 
these very lips kissed by the blessed mouth of Mohammed." 

The few women and children who survived the massacre 
were sent back to Medina, where the story they had to tell 
aroused wild lamentation. Soon it spread over the empire, 
and with ever-increasing effect. Hosein was in arms against 
the lawful caliph, it is true, but his rebellion might have been 
suppressed without the annihilation of Mohammed's descen- 
dants. All's claim to rule, formerly regarded with indiffer- 
ence, was now favourably considered, and his character was 
lauded, until a commonplace man was transfigured into a hero. 
As for Hosein, he became the most glorious of martyrs. 

The pathetic story of the " Family of the tent " is drama- 
tised and acted throughout the Moslem world every year, as 
the anniversary comes round. Those who have seen the 
spectacle can never forget it, the long wailing procession, with, 
at intervals, its groups of hired mourners, often stripped to the 
waist, and beating their breasts raw, keeping time to the 
frantic cry of " Hasan ! Hosein ! Hasan ! Hosein ! " To such a 
pitch of excitement are the Moslems still wrought, that even 
now, after twelve centuries, governments are glad when the 
tenth day of Moharram is safely past. 

Hosein was dead, but Yezid was not yet at peace. Ab- 
dalla, the son of Zobeir, though Hosein's rival whilst he lived, 
now that he was dead, cried out for vengeance. Abdalla was 
clever, and soon had Mecca and Medina in a ferment ; they 
declared him caliph, and swore allegiance. It was necessary 
that strong measures should be taken. Accordingly an army 
was sent to attack Medina and Mecca. Medina was captured 
682. and for three days given up to the licence of the soldiery. 


The force then proceeded to Mecca and laid .sie^^e. The sie^c 
lasted for two months, the city being bombarded with stones 683. 
and burning naphtha, and the Kaaba was burned to the ground. 
When the third month of the siege had begun, news came that 
Yezid was dead, and that his son Muavia II. reigned in his 
stead. Hostilities at once ceased, and Hasan, the Syrian 
general, knowing Muavia II, to be a weakling, offered to make 
Abdalla caliph if he would accompany him to Damascus. But 
he foolishly refused, so Hasan went home alone, and Abflalla 
remained rival caliph, his rule acknowledged over a portion 
of the Moslem empire. 



683. MuAViA II. succeeded his father Yezid II., but only reigned for 
a few mouths. When he died, Abdalla, son of Zobeir, was for 
the moment sole caliph, and was obeyed in Arabia, Egypt and 
Irak. Had he gone to Syria when Yezid died, as Hasan sug- 
gested, he might have established the sole caliphate in his own 
family. But as he was not there the Damascenes remained 

684. faithful to the Ommeyads, and elected Merwan I., a cousin of 
Muavia I., as their caliph, in succession to Muavia II. Merwan 
I. reigned but one year. To him succeeded Abd al Melik, son 
of Muavia II,, who reigned for twenty years. 

Thus there were two caliphs reigning simultaneously, Abd 
al Melik ruling from Damascus, and Abdalla ruling from Mecca. 
Throughout the Moslem world there was strife, some support- 
ing one caliph, some the other, some making vengeance for 
Othman their watchword, others clamouring for vengeance for 

Abd al Melik determined to end the division of the cali- 
phate, and began by attacking Irak, where Musab, brother of 
Abdalla, was governor. Musab was slain, and . Abd al Melik 
entered Kufa in triumph. He next sent a force against Mecca, 
691. where Abdalla himself dwelt. The force was commanded by 
Hejaj, a particularly unscrupulous general, who besieged Mecca 
for several months, Abdalla made a stout resistance, but his 
men gradually deserted him, and he was left almost alone. He 
fell fighting bravely, 

Abd al Melik was now sole caliph of Islam, He rewarded 
Hejaj by making him governor in Arabia, and he ruled it with 

a rod of iron. Afterwards Hejaj was made governor of Khor- 



asan, where he exterminated the Karejites who had been again 
giving trouble. Their last commander, Shebil), was drowned. 696. 

Since the heavy defeat of Muavia I. before Constantinople 
the Saracens had been paying tribute to Byzantium. The 
tribute was paid in Byzantine coin, for the " Byzant " had been 
current for centuries throughout the civilised world. But a 
mint had now been established at Damascus, and Abd al Melik 
tendered the tribute in Arabian coin. Justinian II., now ruling 
in Byzantium, foolishly demurred, whereupon Abd al Melik 
declined to pay any more tribute at all, and Justinian was un- 
able to force him. 

Abd al Melik was strong enough to bring Africa back to its 
allegiance. Hasan, his general, reached Carthage and reduced 
it. The Berbers held out for a time under Queen Kahina, but 698. 
she was captured and executed. Many thousands of Berber 
warriors were incorporated with the Saracenic army, and this 
strengthened the caliphate for a time. 

Abd al Melik was an enlightened ruler as well as an able 
warrior. He encouraged literary men, and poets of eminence 
flourished during his reign. He was succeeded by his son 
Walid I. 

Walid I. was a man of luxurious habits and artistic tastes. 705. 
He was an industrious builder. He built a mosque at Cairo, 
enlarged one at Jerusalem built by his father, and rebuilt the 
sacred structures of Mecca. He also built a mosque at Damas- 
cus which united happily the architecture of Greece and Persia, 
and helped to lay the foundation of the Saracenic style. 

Walid's generals were very successful. Their armies rav- 
aged Cappodocia, Armenia, Pontus and Galatia, crossed the 
Oxus, captured Bokhara and Samarcand, overran Scinde, and 
penetrated to the Indus. His fleets ravaged Sicily and Sar- 
dinia, and made the name of Saracen a terror in the Medi- 

Early in his caliphate Walid sent Musa, a leading general, 
into Africa to subdue the land. He reached the pillars of Her- 
VOL. II. 28 


cules on the African side of which lay tlie city and fort of 
Ceuta, of which one, count Julian, was commandant. Against 
count Julian Musa fought successfully. Spain was at this 

708. time under the Visigoths, whose king, Witica, had been de- 
posed by duke Roderick, between whom and count Julian 
there was deadly feud. Julian proposed to Musa that he 
should cross to Spain and conquer Roderick, thinking doubtless 
that Musa would be content to plunder and return. Musa ob- 
tained the consent of the caliph for the enterprise, and having 
first sent an experimental expedition followed it by a more 
important one under Tarik, his lieutenant. The rock on which 
Tarik landed, known to the ancients as Calpe, became after- 
wards called Gibel-Tarik, the rock of Tarik, out of which the 
name Gibraltar is said to have evolved. 

711. A decisive battle was fought between the Moslems and the 

Visigoths at Xeres, near Cadiz. The Goths were defeated, 
and Roderick was slain. Musa, jealous of his lieutenant's suc- 
cess, hurried across the Straits with further forces, and bade 
him not advance until he arrived. But Tarik declined to wait, 
and advanced into Spain in three divisions, capturing Malaga, 
Toledo and Cordova. He then marched northward right 
through Spain as far as the Bay of Biscay. 

When Tarik at last returned to Toledo to meet Musa, he 
was thrown into prison for disobedience. Afterwards he was 
released by order of the caliph and restored to his command, 
after which Musa and Tarik between them conquered nearly 
the whole of Spain. The conquerors had, however, fallen out 
so seriously that they were ordered home. Tarik arrived first, 
Musa followed leisurely with 30,000 captives and vast booty. 
He took care to provide for his family, leaving one son 
governor in Spain, another in Western Africa, a third at 
Kairwan. When Musa reached Damascus he found Walid 
dying, and Soliman, his brother, on the point of succeeding to 

715 the caliphate. Soliman had no favour for Musa. He received 
him coldly, stripped him of his wealth and deposed his family. 
Tarik does not seem to have fared much better at Soliman's hands. 


The conquerors of Spain may have been indiscreet, but they 
did not deserve the treatment tliey received. The conquest 
had been an extraordinary feat. In two years the country 
had been subdued, for though a few places, such as Cordova 
and Saragossa, were not conquered all at once, the Goths did 
not choose a new king, or rally for any general effort of resist- 
ance. Only the Basques and the inhabitants of the Asturias 
maintained a precarious independence in their mountainous 

The government of Spain was conducted with moderation . 
by the Moslems. The conversion of the people to Islam was 
out of the question, so the churches were not interfered with • 
the Spaniards enjoyed their own religion and were governed 
according to their own customs. It was only required that 
they should remain faithful to the government and pay tribute. 

Soliman's want of interest in the conquest of Spain arose 716. 
from the fact that he had determined upon a more important 
conquest, that of Constantinople, The moment seemed propi- 
tious. The Byzantine Empire was notoriously weak. Six 
emperors had been dethroned in twenty-one years. On the 
north the Bulgarians had wasted Europe to the very walls of 
Constantinople. On the south the Saracens had wasted Asia 
even to the Bosphorus. The best Byzantine general was Leo, 
the Isaurian, who had command of the Asiatic army, and he 
was openly mutinous, and corresponding with the enemy. 
Arrangements had been in progress for attacking the city for a 
good while. Walid, before he died, had prepared a great naval 
and military armament, numbering, it is said, 180,000 men. 

Unfortunately for the Saracens, Theodosius III., recognising 
his inability to cope with the situation, abdicated, and Leo the 
Isaurian was raised to the Byzantine throne. This, of course^ 
ended his disloyalty ; he turned now to the defence of the 
capital with immense energy and determination. At tlie first 
encounter Leo destroyed twenty Moslem ships of war. The 
fleet could not force the passage of the Bosphorus, so that Leo 
continued to have command of and to draw his supplies from 


the Black Sea. Thus the blockade of the city was imperfect, 
and the besiegers suffered far more than the besieged. During 
the winter especially they were badly housed and badly fed, 
whilst the troops in Byzantium had every comfort. 

Soliman, hoping that his presence would turn the tide, was 
717. setting out for the front when he died. His successor, Omar 
II., had no better fortune. The ships were burnt, the soldiers 
were starved. To make matters worse the Bulgarians came 
south, and 20,000 men sent to check their advance were cut to 
pieces. Retreat was imperative, and as usual was disastrous. 
As regards the fleet, out of 1,000 vessels only live returned. 

It is scarcely possible to overestimate the value of the ser- 
vice rendered by Leo the Isaurian in checking the Saracens at 
this time. Had he failed, it is not easy to see where else the 
conquering hordes could have been checked until they reached 
Western Europe. 

720. When Omar II. died, Yezid II. reigned in his stead. After 

724. four years he also died, and Hisham became caliph. Hisham's 
reign was long and eventful. Some years before his accession 
the Moslems had made inroads into Southern France. Their 
first raid was successful, they ravaged the land as far as 
Nismes, and returned laden with booty. Three years later 
they again crossed the Pyrenees, stormed Narbonne, and garri- 

721. soned its fortress as their permanent headquarters. They ad- 
vanced upon Toulouse, but their leader was killed, they were 
thrown into confusion and had to retire to Spain. A Moslem 
garrison, however, remained in Narbonne, and thus they kept a 
foothold north of the Pyrenees. 

725. A few years afterwards the Saracens stirred again. Anbasa, 
a famous general, set out from Narbonne with a large army and 
raided Southern France. With much booty he then returned 
to Spain. Anbasa died, and for some years France had peace. 

731 Eudo, dv^ke of Aquitaine, liegeman to the Frankish king, 

rebelled, and declared himself independent. Charles Martel, 
the famous mayor of the palace, crossed the Loire, beat him 
in the field, ravaged his province, and drove him into Bordeaux. 


Notwithstanding defeat, Eudo was persevering; in his re- 732. 
sistance, when another foe attacked him. Abd er Rahman, the 
Saracen governor of Spain, crossed the Western Pyrenees at 
the head of a huge army, and Eudo, though he put forth all 
his strength, was hopelessly routed. Bordeaux was sacked, 
the country ravaged on all sides. Eudo's only hope lay in 
getting the help of the Franks. Accordingly he sped to Charles 
Martel, made submission, and besought his aid. 

Charles Martel recognised the gravity of the situation, and 
drew together the whole available force of the Frankish realms. 
The task was not a light one. The Saracens were flushed 
with victory, and the Franks had little experience of their 
tactics. At Poitiers the hosts met, and each waited for the other 
to take the initiative. At last Abd er Rahman attacked. The 
onset of the Saracens was terrific, but they had for the first 
time to deal with heavily armed European troops. The French 
stood the shock, and the scimitar was broken by the long 
sword and the battle-axe. After several furious onslaughts 
the Moslems recoiled, leaving thousands dead on the field. 
Then Eudo with his Aquitanians assailed their rear. They 
wavered, and Charles Martel, seizing the auspicicnis moment, 
charged along the whole line. Darkness ended the slaughter, 
and when daylight appeared, the Saracens were far away 
flying southward. 

Thus within a brief space the Saracens had been twice 
heavily defeated at the gates of Europe, at Constantinople by 717. 
Leo the Isaurian, in France by Charles Martel. These heroes 732. 
rendered noble service to Christendom. We do not believe 
that the Saracens could have made any permanent conquest in 
France, or that Mohammedanism could ever have endangered 
the faith of Western Europe. But it was well that the struggle 
should be short and decisive. And so it was. The Moslems 
accepted their defeat in France as final, and though years 
passed before their garrisons were entirely expelled, there were 
no more Saracen invasions of Gaul. 

The victory of Leo the Isaurian in the east of Europe was 


not less important, and was perhaps more praiseworthy, seeing 
that it was only gained by long tenacious fighting over a period 
of years. Unfortunately, though it threw back the Moslem 
conquest of Eastern Europe for centuries, it was not destined 
to be final. 

The heavy blows which Islam had received under the 
Ommeyads did not add to the popularity of the dynasty. It 
will be remembered that, with the death of Ali, the caliphate 
passed into the hands of Muavia I., son of Abu Sufyan, at one 
time Mohammed's most bitter enemy. Muavia was the first 
caliph of the Ommeyad dynasty, which had now lasted nearly 
a century. 

Though Mohammed's lineal descendants perished in the 
massacre of Kerbela, there existed a collateral branch, the 
Abbassidcs, descendants of Abbas, one of Mohammed's uncles. 
Abu Abbas had been kind to Mohammed, and his descendants 
were regarded by the Moslems with favour. 

Abdalla, chief of the Abbasside family in former years, had 
been greatly attached to Ali and Hosein, and when they were 
slain he retired to an obscure town on the confines of Arabia. 
Here his son Mohammed conceived the idea of supplanting 
the Ommeyad dynasty by the Abbasside. He knew that he 
could best accomplish this by winning the Alyites to his si<le, 
so he declared that a descendant of Ali had on his death-bed 
transferred to him his rights of succession. The Abbassides 
and Alyites sent emissaries abroad spreading discontent, and, 
as the power of the Ommeyads waned, there were many 
revolts. Of these the worst were in Khorasan, where Abu 
Muslim, a warm partisan, led the movement. 

743. When Hisham died, after a reign of twenty years, the 
Moslem power had ceased to advance, and the Ommeyad 
dynasty was losing its prestige in Islam. Hisham was 
followed by Walid II., who reigned for fifteen months ; he by 
Yezid III. who reigned five months ; and he by Ibrahim who 
reigned but three. Merwan II. then became caliph. He was 

744, a strong man, and might have revived the prospects of the 


dynasty had matters been less serious. But the caliphate had 
lost its hold on Spain and Africa, and Khorasan was full of re- 
bellion. The Abbasside movement had greatly advanced, and 
the time of open and widespread revolt was at hand. 

Hardly had Merwan II. become caliph when the crisis came. 
The first revolt was at Hems (Emesa) ; then there was one 
near Damascus ; soon they were all around. For some years 
Merwan held his own. Then Khorasan rose. Here the 
family of Ali was specially strong, and at Merv a new dynasty 
was proclaimed. Abu Abbas, chief of the Abbassides, took 749. 
possession of the governor's palace in Merv, assumed the title 
of caliph, and called the faithful to his banner. They rallied 
round and soon he marched at the head of 45,000 men. Mer- 
wan made strenuous efforts, and met his foe near Arbela, not 750. 
far from that place where, a thousand years before, Darius and 
Alexander had tried conclusions. Merwan fought bravely, 
but his followers were without enthusiasm, and he had to fly. 
He reached Damascus to find its gates closed against him. 
Southward he fled, through Palestine, into Egypt. At last in 
a small Coptic chapel at Busir on the frontier of the Delta, he 
was overtaken and slain. With him the Ommeyad dynasty 
came to an end. 



750. We have seen how Merwan, the last caliph of the Ommeyad 
house was defeated and slain, and how Abu Abbas succeeded 
him. The Abbasside dynasty, thus founded, lasted for several 
centuries, and brought much glory to Islam. Its rule, how- 
ever, was never co-extensive with the Moslem empire. 

Abbas began his career by trying to exterminate the 
Ommeyads. The members of the family were proscribed and 
slain wherever found. A few escaped, among whom was 
Abd er Rahman, a youth who fled to North Africa and took 
refuge with the Berbers. Both North Africa and Spain 
favoured the Ommeyads, so Abd er Rahman eventually crossed 
to Spain, and was received with honour. Soon he became 
prince of the country, founding the caliphate of Cordova, 
though the title of caliph was not assumed by him, but by his 
successors at a much later date. The caliphate of Cordova 
was small, comprising parts of Spain and Northern Africa, but 
though small it occupied for three centuries a distinguished 
position in Saracenic history. 

During the reign of Abd er Rahman Charlemagne invaded 
Spain, and met with the disaster at Roncesveaux which is 
778. described in another section of our history. 

Though the caliphs of Cordova ruled brilliantly, and 
triumphed for a time over the small Christian States into which 
Spain had been divided, they could not permanently hold their 
ow^n in that country. When the last caliph was deposed 
1035. Spain broke up into independent principalities. The struggle 
between these went on, the Christian States gi-adually gaining 
ground. Before the end of the thirteenth century all Spain, 



except Granada, was aj^^ain in the hands of the Christians. 
Granada remained Mohammedan until the days of Ferdinand 1492. 
and Isabella, who completed the unification of Spain. 

Abu Abbas, the founder of the Abbasside dynasty, reigned 
four years and gave governorships to various members of his 
family, hoping that this would lead to unity. It led to strife 
instead, for when Abu Abbas died and was succeeded by 754. 
Mansur, his brother, the governor of Irak, Abdalla, his uncle, 
the governor of Syria, rebelled. Abdalla was crushed by Abu 
Muslim, who had done more than any other man to establish 
the Abbasside dynasty. But Muslim got a poor reward for his 
services. His success alarmed Mansur, and he was assassinated. 

Mansur decided to establish a new capital, and founded the 762. 
city of Bagdad. The Ommeyad capital had been at Damascus, 
and the removal of the seat of government to a city so far east 
as Bagdad may have been a mistake. The unity of the Moslem 
empire was endangered. The religious supremacy of the caliph 
of Bagdad was everywhere respected, but his political autho- 
rity was of little consequence in the Western provinces, 

Bagdad is situated on the Tigris, fifteen miles above the 
ruins of Ctesiphon. The fascinating tales of the Arabian 
Nights' Entertainvients have familiarised us with the city, 
and its very name conjures up visions of splendoui'. Truly a 
great change had come over the spirit of Islam. Could con- 
trast be greater than that between Omar crossing the desert on 
his camel dressed like a beggar man, his meagi-e fare dangling 
in his saddle-bags, and the caliph of Bagdad, dwelling in an 
everlasting glitter of gold and silver and precious stones ? 

To Mansur succeeded Mehdi, his son. Dm-ing his reign 775. 
occurred the strange rebellion which has been immortalised to 
us by Moore in his poem of Lalla Rookh. Mokanna, the veiled 
prophet of Khorasan, headed a revolution and had many ad- 
herents. He professed to be an incarnation of the Deity, and 
his face was said so to shine that mortals could not bear the 
sight. Probably he had instead a face which disease had dis- 
figured. Mokanna defeated the governor of Khorasan, but the 


caliph at length sent against him an army so huge that his 
followers deserted his standard. When the end approached 
Mokanna destroyed his family, and then flinging himself into 
the flames of his burning palace was entirely consumed. 

785. Mehdi was succeeded by Hadi. At this time the empress 
Irene reigned at Constantinople in the name of her son Con- 
stantine IV. She went to war with the Saracens, but was dis- 
astrously defeated, and only gained peace by payment of a huge 
annual tribute. 

Haroun al Raschid next reigned, the fifth caliph of the 

786. dynasty. His reign is generally regarded as the summit of 
the Saracenic golden age. The empire was prosperous, the 
barbarism of the desert had made way for a civilisation, itself 
barbaric, but having a splendour all its own. Saracenic art 
and architecture were developing, learning was patronised, and 
Bagdad was a rendezvous for poets and philosophers. 

Haroun al Raschid was contemporaneous with Charlemagne, 
and the rulers exchanged courtesies. Haroun sent a clock to 
Charlemagne, " of gilt bronze, wherein a clepsyth-a marked out 
the twelve hours. As each hour ended, a little golden ball was 
released, and, falling on a bell, struck it, and made a sound. 
Moreover, the clock had in it twelve horsemen, which issued forth 
from twelve windows at the end of the hours, and by the shock 
of their issuing forth closed up twelve other windows which 
before were open. Many other marvels there were in the clock 
too long to tell " (Dean Kitchin, France, p. 133). 

Many wonderful clocks have been made since, but it is 
worth remembering that three centuries before the Norman 
conquest the Saracen clockmakers were not less clever than 
English clockmakers of comparatively recent times. 

Readers of the Arabian Nights will remember the Barme- 
cides. The Barmek family came from Khorasan about the 
time that the Abbasside dynasty was founded. One of them 
became grand vizier to Abbas, and continued vizier in the 
reign of Mansur, his brother. Other caliphs also utilised the 
family, finding them trustworthy and possessed of special 


ministerial ability. During the reign of Haroun they rose to 
great power. The caliph lived in luxurious ease, and the Bar- 
mecides did the work, administering the afiairs of state, en- 
couraging commerce and conquering enemies. They were 
strong men, and so far as we can judge, honourable men. But 
Haroun became jealous of his great ministers, and suddenly 
turning against them, destroyed the whole family and confis- 
cated their property throughout the empire. 

After the destruction of the Barmecides, Haroun did not 
find life in Bagdad agreeable, for they had many friends. 
Accordingly he spent much of his time at Rakka, a city on 
the Euphrates in the north of Syria. 

Before the death of Haroun the separate dynasty of the 809. 
Aglabites had been founded at Kairwan and Tunis, so that 
there were now caliphates at Bagdad, Cordova and Tunis, 
The Aglabite government lasted for 140 years. 

Haroun was no mean warrior, and during his reign the 
Moslems had many successes against the Greeks. Nicephorus 
usurped the place of Irene, and refused to pay the tribute 
which she had promised. But Haroun invaded Asia Minor, 
and so ravaged the land that Nicephorus was glad to purchase 
peace at any price. 

Haroun left two sons, Amin and Mamun. They shared the 
empire between them, Amin taking the west, Mamun taking 
Khorasan. But the arrangement only lasted four years. 
Mamun was the abler man, and one after another the pro- 
vinces fell from Amin to him. At last Amin was slain, and 
Mamun reigned alone. The early years of his reign were 
stormy. He continued to live at Merv, and allowed a minister 
to rule at Bagdad. There were many revolts, and Mamun had 
to take the reins into his own hands. After this things went 

Mamun reigned alone for twenty years. About this time 
the civilisation of the Mohammedans was in advance of anytliing 
else in Europe. The empire was well governed in many ways. 
There was a postal service, and taxation was evenly distributed. 


Canals, aqueducts and roads were constructed. Cities of con- 
siderable size sprang up ; and Saracenic architecture with its 
domes, minarets and horse-shoe arches developed. There were 
famous universities at Bagdad, Cairo and Cordova. Philo- 
sophy, law, medicine, theology and mathematics were taught 
with skill. An Arab mathematician invented the decimal 
system in the twelfth century. A treatise on algebra was 
written in the century with which we are dealing. Spherical 
trigonometry was developed later. The terms sine, cosine, 
tangent are Arabian. The Arabs invented the pendulum and 
made progress in astronomy. Observatories were built, and on 
the sandy plain between Palmyra and Rakka a degi'ee of the 
meridian was measured. The Arabs had a real science of medi- 
cine and no small knowledge of chemistry. They worked 
beautifully in metals, and made pottery and glass. But their 
art and civilisation were doomed to perish, trodden in the mire 
by Turkish invasion and Turkish control. 

About this time the kingdom of Fez was foun<led, and the 
islands of Crete and Sicily were conquered by Moslems. Sicily 

827. was invaded, and the Saracenic capital of the island was fixed 
at Palermo, which gave excellent anchorage to the Moslem fleet. 
Syracuse made a prolonged resistance, not submitting until 
878, but after its fall conquest was rapid and Christianity 
almost disappeared from the island. 

The conquest of Sicily led to a revival of piracy on the 
Mediterranean. From the shores of Sicily and Africa vessels 
sailed forth, making peaceful commerce well-nigh impossible. 
Sometimes the pirates sailed in squadrons and pillaged the 

846. coast towns. The Tiber itself was entered and churches were 
robbed even in the suburbs of Rome. But Pope Leo IV. ar- 
ranged an alliance between various maritime communities, and 
when the Moslems again sailed into the port of Ostia a com- 
bined fleet gave them battle. They were completely defeated 
and many became slaves. 

. Mamun was a great ruler, and eager to advance learning. 
So eager was he that he is said to have gone to war with the 


Byzantine emperor because he forbade a philosopher whom 
Mamun wished to engage to leave his dominions. He was 
quite heterodox and persecuted Moslems who followed the 
Koran too closely. He was succeeded by his brother Motasim. 
For some time the caliphs had used Turkish mercenaries, 
especially as household troops. The introduction of foreign 
soldiery into the capital of an empire has rarely answered, and 
Bagdad proved no exception to the rule. So long as the Turks 
only numbered a few thousands it mattered little, but when 
Motasim garrisoned the capital with them and increased their 
number to 50,000, matters became serious. There was little 
discipline amongst the Turks, they were insolent to the people, 
rioting and bloodshed prevailed. Motasim accordingly tried 
another arrangement. He established a cantonment at Samara 
on the Tigris, and there the mercenaries were stationed. The 
citizens of Bagdad were benefited by the change, but the caliph, 
living much at Samara, was more than ever under Turkish in- 
fluence. The Mamelukes, as the mercenaries were called, dis- 
placed the Arab soldiery, and soon had the caliphate at their 
mercy, making and unmaking caliphs at will. 

During Motasim's caliphate, Theophilus, the Byzantine em- 836. 
peror, foolishly renewed a war which had been temporarily ended 
by the death of Mamun, making incursions into Syria, and de- 
vastating the country as far as Mesopotamia. Motasim took 
a terrible revenge. At the head of 200,000 men he invaded 
Asia Minor, drove the Greeks before him, and besieged Amo- 
rium, one of the most prosperous cities in the Byzantine. empire. 
He captured it, put its inhabitants to the sword, and razed it 
to the ground. 

Wathek succeeded Motasim, and, on his death, the Turks 842. 
placed Motawakkel on the throne. Though himself a profli- 847. 
gate and a drunkard, Motawakkel was extremely orthodox, 
and persecuted Jews and Christians without mercy, placing 
them under ignominious restrictions. He was assassinated, 
and the Turks then placed Montaser on the throne. He reigned 861. 
but five months, and was succeeded by Mostain. 862. 


The Moslem world was now torn by faction, both political 
and religious. The unity of belief upon which Mohammed had 
insisted was a thing of the past. Islam had as many sects as 
Christianity, the caliphs were often freethinkers, the authority 
of the Koran was openly called in question. In the cities there 
was much civil strife. In Samara the populace and the sol- 
diery were continually at war. In Bagdad the Turks assas- 
sinated each other, and caliphs were put up and pulled down as 
the troops saw fit. 
870. During the reign of Motamed, Khorasan and Egypt separ- 

ated themselves from the empire, and new dynasties became 

Among the sects that arose in the Moslem world were the 
Ismailians. The Ismailians were Alyites, and believed in the 
coming of a Messiah, or Mahdi, who would restore justice on 
the earth, and take vengeance on the oppressors of the family 
of Ali, They had a more exalted conception of God than is to 
be found in the Koran. 

Out of the Ismailians sprang the Fatimites. Obeidalla, 
pontiff of the Ismailians, professed descent from Ali. He re- 
vived the claims of the Alyites, and founded a new Fatimite 
dynasty. His capital was at Mahadi, on the African coast, 
not far from Kairwan. He subdued the Aglabites, who had 
been predominant there, and ruled Africa from Egypt to the 
Atlantic. Egypt itself he was unable to conquer, but one of 
his successors accom^slishcd this, and a Fatimite dynasty ruled 
that country until it was overthrown by Saladin. There are 
still several millions of Alyites or Shias, about 5 per cent, of 
the total number of Moslems, and the Mahdi, the Messiah, who 
will break in pieces the rod of the oppressor, is still longed for 
in the deserts of the Soudan. 

The Karmathians were a branch of the Ismailians. At 
first they seem to have protested against the worldliness which 
had taken possession of the caliphate. They held their own 
for a long time in Irak, Syria, and Eastern Arabia. They even 
captured such cities as Kufa and Bassora. But at last they 


were defeated and driven into Arabia. There they stormed 
Mecca, plundered the city, and carried away the black stone 
from the Kaaba. It was afterwards restored, but in a shattered 
condition. The Karmathians took to plundering caravans, and 
in the tenth century were exterminated. 

Notwithstanding- their internal dissensions the Saracens 
continued to give a good account of the foreign foe. Their 
conflicts with the Byzantines were continuous, and the balance 
of advantage was generally on their side. Not always, how- 
ever. Crete was recovered from them by Romanus, after having 961. 
been under their dominion for a century and a half. Attempts 
to drive them from Sicily were unsuccessful. 

The later caliphs were mostly weak men, the tools of their 
soldiers and ministers. Bagdad became the scene of frightful 
anarchy, and its magnificence faded. A new dynasty, the 
Buvide, the sovereigns of whom claimed descent from Ali, be- 945. 
came supreme, and for nearly a century and a half the city was 
under its control. The caliph renounced temporal power and 
became simply the spiritual head of Islam. The head of the 
State was known as the Prince of Princes, and the caliph was 
a puppet in his hands. The rule of the Buvides ended when 1050. 
the Seljuk Turkish dynasty was established at Bagdad. 

After the point of time which we have now reached in Mos- 
lem history, it will not be necessary to continue to deal with it 
as a separate entity. For the next two centuries the most in- 
teresting facts in connection with it may be found by reading 
the chapters which deal with the Crusades. After the Cru- 
sades and until the fall of Constantinople Moslem history can 
be sufficiently followed in the sections which deal with the 
Byzantine Empire and with Spain. After the fall of Constan- 
tinople the history of Mohammedanism will merge to a con- 
siderable extent in the history of Turkey. 


VOL. II. 29 



In the eleventh century of the Christian era began the series 
of strange wars called the Crusades, wars which had for their 
avowed object the rescue of the Holy Land from the Moslem. 
Though the crusades began in the eleventh century they ex- 
tended to the thirteenth, so that they were not an outburst of 
mere fanatical zeal or momentary enthusiasm. They were the 
outcome of a variety of circumstances, partly political, partly 
religious. Of these two were specially instrumental in bring- 
ing matters to a crisis, the aggression of the papacy and the 
aggression of the Turk. 

Four hundred and fifty years had passed since Mohammed 
drew the sword. The caliphs, his successors, were not con- 
tent to confine Islam to Arabia. Perceiving that their followers 
must have scope for their raiding propensities, they turned 
them loose upon the world, and offered Islam, tribute, or the 
sword to all nations. Since the days of Attila, the world had 
not seen anything so terrible as this Moslem frenzy. Con- 
quest was rapid, for the Byzantine and Persian empires were 
exhausted. During Mohammed's life all Arabia accepted the 
faith. Within the eight years following, Persia, Palestine, 
Egypt, and much of Asia Minor, had succumbed. The Sara- 
cens, as the Moslem warriors were called by the Westerns, 
received their first serious check from Leo the Isaurian at 718. 
Constantinople. Of 180,000 men who gathered to the siege of 
that city, only 30,000 survived. Somewhat later the Saracens 



received an almost equally severe check in France. Having by 
711. degrees conquered Africa, they crossed to Spain and also con- 
quered it. From Spain they invaded France and ravaged 
Aquitaine, but were overthrown by Charles Martel, near 
732. Poitiers. The victory of Charles Martel checked the Moslem 
advance in Western Europe for all time, the victory of 
Leo postponed their advance in Eastern Europe for several 
637. Jerusalem had capitulated to the caliph Omar in the 

seventh century, and long lay under Moslem rule. When once 
they had conquered the Saracens were tolerant. The Mosque 
of Omar was built oii the site of the Temple, but the Holy 
Sepulchre was preserved to the Christians, and they had, for a 
long time, no special cause of complaint. The Saracens were 
intellectually in advance of the Westerns. They were patrons 
of education, and as time went on they had schools and colleges 
of merit. In the West Roman civilisation had been wiped out 
by the Northern races, and for many centuries unblushing 
ignorance prevailed. In the ninth century the supreme judge 
of the German Empire could not write his name. For many 
centuries such education as existed in the West was confined to 
the priests. The noble signed his name by making his mark, 
and was proud that he could do no more. The words which 
Sir Walter Scott puts in the mouth of Douglas, " Thanks to 
Saint Bothan, son of mine, save Gawain, ne'er could pen a 
line," well represent the state of mind of Europe's Western 
nobility in mediaeval times. The Byzantines, the Arabians, 
the Persians, and the East Indians were much more cultured. 
Among the Westerns science was counted little better than 
blasphemy, and a clever inventor ran the risk of being con- 
demned as a wizard. 

Feudalism crushed the life out of the people. The barons 
lived in strongholds, and robbed and plundered at will. The 
poor man dared not lead an independent life. He must have 
a master, and in exchange for protection must surrender him- 
self to that master, body and soul. Patriotism was impossible, 


nor could there be any true sense of obligation from class to 
class. The nobles gloried in private combat and private war, 
caring not that the people lived in misery and passed away in 
bloodshed. The institution of chivalry did a little to redeem 
the character of the times, but only a little. Its motives were 
not high. The knight thought chiefly of his own glory ; the 
women for whom he fought were of his own rank, for the poor 
no man cared. 

The conditions we have described were not favourable to 
the acquisition of wealth. Such prosperity as existed under 
Roman rule had been swept away. The industrial arts, long- 
neglected, had, in many parts of Europe, almost ceased to 
exist. They could at the best only be practised in a few 
walled cities, whose burghers managed to maintain their in- 
dependence, either by purchase or by force. In open places 
baronial strife made high cultivation, or the acquisition of even 
moderate wealth, impossible. Why trouble about sowing, 
when one knew not who would reap ? Why breed cattle for 
the raider to drive away ? So men lived from hand to mouth 
in sordid poverty. 

In the Christian Church men found little help. Doubtless 
there were faithful shepherds here and there. But in the main 
ecclesiastical otfices were bestowed with little regard to spiritual 
fitness. Something the Chm-ch had done in the interests of 
peace. " The truce of God," which bound men to abstain from 
fighting during certain periods, saved Europe from becoming 
quite a desert. But too often Churchmen utilised the passion 
for fighting for their own aggrandisement, winning temporal 
advantage where they could, and mercilessly crushing out with 
fire and sword every attempt to apply to religion those facul- 
ties of reason with which the Creator has endowed mankind. 

In the year 1000, many expected the end of the age. 
Charters are still in existence beginning with the words " ap- 
propinquante termino mundi" (as the world is now drawing 
to a close). When the end did not come at that time it was 
expected thirty-three years later. The fear of approaching 


disaster added enormously to the possessions of the Church, 
and drove many unsuitable men into holy orders. The con- 
dition of the Church at this time was lamentable. At a 
council held at Reims it was declared that the Church " was 
ruled by monsters of iniquity, wanting in all culture, whether 
sacred or profane". In the middle of the eleventh century 
one writes : " Everything is degenerate, all is lost, faith has 
disappeared ", 

There were at this time no strong national governments in 
Western Europe. England had just been conquered by Nor- 
mans, and between ruler and ruled there was as yet no 
sympathy. Germany and France were divided into petty 
states, each governed by its own feudal lord, sometimes stronger 
than his king. The feudal lord could coin money ; indulge in 
private war ; was largely free from taxation, and had power 
of life and death over his subjects. His tenants marched to 
war at his command. It was this that made the Crusades 

During the tenth and the early part of the eleventh cen- 
turies the papal chair was often filled by unworthy and even 
disgraceful men. After the middle of the eleventh century 
better men were chosen, and an effort was made to reform the 
Church and the world. In this effort Hildebrand's influence 
was at first paramount. His methods were indefensible, and 
his plan failed, but he doubtless meant well. Perceiving the 
impotence of the secular power, he conceived the idea of 
making the Pope supreme earthly potentate. To him even 
kings were to bow. Religious officers were to be chosen by 
him, and to him must yield implicit obedience. That they 
might be pliant instruments they were to be as far as possible 
free from earthly ties. This necessitated celibacy, and priests 
already married were to forsake their wives and children. 
The badness of the times was the only excuse for Hildebrand's 
audacious scheme, the offspring of an ambitious rather than a 
far-seeing mind. Had Hildebrand been able to guarantee a 
succession of great and good men in the papal chair it might 


have been different, but history had sufficiently proved that 
between kings and popes there was little to choose. In the end 
Europe found a better way. The nation became the unit, with 
the kin>^' at its centre, and the development of the spirit of 
patriotism lx)und class to class. Nevertheless, Hildebrand's 
scheme fascinated his successors and died hard. It had a 
direct bearing upon the Crusades. 

The rapid success of the Saracens alarmed the West. When 
they captured Jerusalem, seized Northern Africa, overran 
Spain, besieged Constantinople, invaded France, and even 
attacked Rome, there was cause for fear. But as time went 
on it became evident that the Arab wave was spent. There 
was schism amongst the Moslems, and for a time they ceased 
to be dangerous. But the general confidence was destined to 
be rudely shaken. 

Early in the eleventh century Asia began to pour out new 
hordes of invaders. These were the Seljukian Turks, greedy 
for spoil. They had accepted Islam, but would fight Moslems 
as well as Christians if they barred their way. All through 
the eleventh century the Seljuks pressed forward, making 
steady progress in Persia, Armenia and Asia Minor. Their i07l. 
leader Alp Arslan defeated and captured Romanus IV., the 
Byzantine emperor, at the battle of Manzikert. His son, 
Malik-shah, pressed forward until the Greek Empire had 
practically disappeared from Asia Minor, and the Turkish 
banners Haunted almost within sight of Constantinople itself. 1Q74. 

In their despair the Greeks appealed to Hildebrand (Gregory 
VII.) praying for help from Western Europe. Right gladly 
would Hildebrand have acquiesced. He saw that a movement 
which would combine the Catholics of Europe under papal 
command would add enormously to his prestige. Accordingly 
he summoned the Christian potentates to the rescue and him- 
self proposed to lead their hosts. But the time had not yet 
come. The Christian potentates were too jealous of Hilde- 
brand to give him more power. Moreover, when he demanded 
from the Greeks as a condition of his aid that they should 


acknowledge his supremacy over the Greek Church, even they 
drew back. They would not have his help at such a price. 
Thus the first effort to arouse the crusading spirit failed, and 
afterwards Hildebrand found so many troubles of his own that 
he had little time to give to those of Byzantium. 

In the eleventh century the habit of making pilgrimage to 
the Holy Land was well established. Early Christianity had 
deprecated the idea that one place was more sacred than an- 
other. But when the State took Christianity under its wing 
and made it the religion of the rich and powerful, many 
things changed. The simplicity of early worship passed 
away. Stately churches and ornate ceremonial took its place. 
Churches were built in memory of martyrs and were adorned 
with paintings and images. In the end of the fourth century 
the worship of images in the churches had become common. 
The attachment of sanctity to particular places easily followed. 
In the fourth century, through the piety of Constantine and 
Helena his mother, churches were built on the traditional sites 
of our Lord's birth and burial. Efforts were made to iden- 
tify spots specially memorable. Pilgrimages were the natural 
I'Csult. In Constantine's reign a pilgrim went by land from 
Bordeaux to Jerusalem, and left a record of liis journey which 
is still extant. 

Soon pilgrimage became fashionable. Many things con- 
spired to this end. The love of adventure was doubtless a 
prime motive with some. In days when there were few books, 
and few who could read them, men desiring information must 
see the world. Others were doubtless influenced by a single- 
minded desire to see the places sanctified by the bodily presence 
of their Lord. Some of the early Fathers saw danger in this 
desire. Augustine bade Christians remember that Christ was 
not to be sought in special places but was everywhere present 
by faith. Jerome speaks of the uselessness of pilgrimage, yet 
himself dwelt for many years in Bethlehem. Paula, the noble 
Roman lady who accompanied him and spent a fortune in his 
service, said : " Here are Gauls and Britons, Persians and Ar- 


menians, Indians and i^thiopians all dwelling- in love and 
harmony ". By the end of the foiu'th century the practice of 
pilgrima<^e had so increased that alms were collected in the 
churches for the relief of poor pilgrims at Jerusalem. 

As the centuries passed superstition became rife, and men 
believed that miraculous power was associated with relics, 
images and sacred places. Pilgrimages were undertaken to 
the tombs of the saints in the hope of receiving physical or 
spiritual benefit. Enormous profits accrued to the churches 
from these beliefs, and they were encouraged by the priest- 

Finally, pilgrimage became associated with the idea of 
penance and indulgence. In early times, amongst rough folk, 
the infliction of penance for certain offences was perhaps the 
best way of enforcing discipline. Though prolific of abuse it 
doubtless had at times a wholesome eflect upon rude natures. 
Sometimes the penance took the form of fasting or scourging ; 
sometimes money payment was enjoined; sometimes a pilgrim- 
age to the tomb of a saint ; sometimes a journey to Rome or 
Jerusalem. Fulk of Anjou, a specially bad man, went thrice 
to Jerusalem for his sins. The father of William the Con- 
queror went to Jerusalem on his bare feet. He got there 
safely, but on his way home died at Nicaea. 

In the latter part of the eleventh century pilgrimages in- 
creased. The conversion of Hungary to Christianity made the 
overland journey more easy. Some came by sea from the 
coast ports of Italy. Amalfi, on the Bay of Naples, did a great 
trade in pilgrims, and its fleets were under the special protec- 
tion of the caliphs. Amongst the pilgrims the French were 
most numerous, and the name of Frank was given by the Sara- 
cens to all Western Europeans. Men of every class went on 
pilgrimage, rich as well as poor. Resting-places, hospitals and 
guest houses were built here and there by benefactors, and the 
pilgrim's dress ensured a welcome. Of course pilgrimage was 
attended with peril at the best of times. In 1064 the Bishop 
of Mainz led 7,000 pilgrims to the Holy Land, and only 2,000 


returned. The mortality amongst pilorims was caused as much 
by hardship and ignorance of travel as by the attacks of 
robbers. Many of the pilgrims were physically unfit for the 
journey. They were ignorant of the dangers attending 
Eastern travel, and fell easy victims to sunstroke, typhoid and 
dysentery. But if a man returned safely, he was a hero for 
the rest of his life. 

In the last quarter of the eleventh century the Seljukian 
Turk overran Asia Minor and Palestine. Jerusalem fell, and 
the Christians soon felt the difference between the rule of the 
Arab and that of the Turk. To the Arab Jerusalem had a 
sacredness only second to that of Mecca ; to the Turk nothing 
was sacred. Pilgrims were insulted, robbed, murdered. Pil- 
grimage, formerly reasonably safe, became well-nigh impossible. 
Nor were pilgrims the only sufferers. Pilgrimage had 
been a source of profit to traders. Some pilgrims were rich, 
and paid large prices for supposed relics and for the wares of 
the East. Cities on the route grew rich through catering for 
them. The Easter fair at Jerusalem drew immense crowds. 
But with the advent of the Seljukian Turk all was changed, 
for merchants dared no longer bring their wares to Palestine. 

1074. This was the state of affairs when the Byzantine emperor 

sought help from Hildebrand. Neither emperor nor pope was 
thinking of pilgrims at this time. The emperor dreaded lest 
Constantinople should fall ; the pope, though statesman enough 
to realise how dangerous the fall of Constantinople might be 
to Christendom, thought chiefly of augmenting his prestige by 
leading a great popular movement. But the movement was 
not popular, the Westerns were not moved by the sorrows of 

1086. Victor III., Hildebrand's immediate successor, also advo- 

cated a crusade, and promised remission of sins to all who 
took part in it. His advocacy was successful, but in an un- 
expected way. The Genoese and Pisans took advantage of 
the opportunity, and, aided by the volunteers who were in- 
spired by the papal preaching, swept the coast of Africa with 


their fleets, and brout^ht back much spoil. It was piracy, pure 
and simple. 

Urban II. now became pope. Pilgrims were returning 1088. 
with tales of woe, and their stories spread. They told of peril 
encountered, of violence, robbery, and oppression endured, 
above all, of holy places deliled. Men became excited, and 
talked about putting an end to these things by means of a 
united effort. Among those who seriously considered the 
question was pope Urban II. He knew that Hildebrand, his 
great exemplar, had contemplated a crusade, and he felt safe 
in following his example. Moreover, it would improve his 
position as head of the Church, and this was more desirable, 
seeing that there was an anti-pope, Clement III., a nominee of 
the German emperor. Doubtless also Urban II. sympathised 
with the pilgrims, and was grieved that the sacred places of 
Christianity should be in the hands of the Moslem. 

At a Church Council at Piacenza envoys from Alexius I., 
who was now emperor in Byzantium, were present, and the 
subject was broached. Little was done then, for Piacenza was 
in Italy, and the popes have rarely had much influence in 
Italy. The council was adjourned to Clermont, and there 
the discussion was resumed. Clermont was in France, and 
Urban was French, and could harangue the people with ettect. 
After the formal conference he spoke from a platform in the 
open air to a vast crowd, among"st whom many had been 
doubtless already wrought up by his emissaries. Urban said 
little about Alexius or Byzantium, but much about the defile- 
ment of Jerusalem. He pleaded for the deliverance of the 
sacred places from the Moslem, and declared that all who em- 
barked on the enterprise would have their sins forgiven and 
be sure of a glorious immortality. Urban was an eloquent 
man. He was speaking as a Frenchman to Frenchmen, and 
he was at once successful. Men like Father Mathew have 
swayed multitudes in similar fashion in modern times. At the 
end of the speech crosses of red cloth, already prepared, were 
distributed, and thousands sewed them on their garments and 


pledged themselves to the enterprise, scarcely knowing what 
they did. 

Urban now sent out missionaries to carry on the work he 
had begun. The leading missionary was Peter the Hermit, 
a man who has got undue credit for the crusade. He was a 
monk of Amiens who had started on a pilgrimage to the Holy 
Land, but had turned back, probably because of the tales he 
heard concerning the violence done to the pilgrims by the 
Seljuk Turks. Peter was used by Urban II., but there is no 
proof that he influenced him, or even spoke to him before 
the Council of Clermont. But Urban knew that more than 
preaching was necessary to set so novel an enterprise on foot. 
Those were times when it was not safe for men to travel far 
from home. Urban therefore proclaimed the inviolability of 
the crusader. Be he rich or poor, the red cross was to be 
sufficient guard. The truce of God was extended to three 
years, and during that time private war was to cease. The 
Church took upon itself the care of the wives and families of 
crusaders, and the custody of their estates. The assumption 
of the cross freed a man from the oppression of his lord, 
opened the prison doors for the malefactor, and placed the 
debtor beyond the reach of his creditor. Above all, the 
assumption of the cross wiped out guilt, however black that 
guilt might be. When to these considerations we add the love 
of adventure, the hope of bettering one's fortune, and the 
joyful thought that passion for fighting could be indulged in 
under sanction of religion, we need not be surprised at the 
early popularity of the movement. Doubtless some were im- 
pelled by high motives, and went to the Crusades from a sense 
of binding duty. But this class of crusader was of little use 
in the Orient, and his bones soon whitened the plain. 

When once the rage for crusading began many had an 
interest in keeping it alive. Kings were not sorry to be rid 
of the more turbulent of their subjects. The Church benefited 
enormously. The pope as protector of the possessions and 
even dominions of crusaders was placed, where Hildebrand had 


formerly desired to place him, above all European princes. 
The preaching of the Crusade was an excuse for sending papal 
legates into every land, to stir up the people and raise money 
for the cause. The prelates and monastic houses became 
guardians or mortgagees of lands belonging to crusaders, and 
having got hold did not easily let go. If the crusader did not 
return, well and good ; if he did he was often so broken with 
fever and hardship that he was thankful to spend the rest of 
his days in a monastery and endow it with his estate. The 
case was even worse with such as took the cross and afterwards 
repented. They were subject to excommunication, and were 
not released until they had paid heavy penalties for non-per- 
formance. In after years the popes sometimes used the hold 
thus obtained over men in high position with cruel effect. 



The effect of Urban's appeal, followed by the preaching of 
Peter the Hermit and the other emissaries, was great ; and 
when pardon and protection were offered by the Church to all 
crusaders, multitudes volunteered. The wiser of the volunteers 
made their preparations with care, and arranged to march 
under chosen leaders, August, 1096, being provisionally fixed 
as the date for setting forth. 

Whilst the wisest crusaders were thus setting deliberately 
to work, a horde of men, women and children gathered in the 
North of France demanding to be led against the Saracen forth- 
with. This early multitude was drawn from the humbler 
classes. Some were honest enthusiasts, some of desperate for- 
tune, some jail-birds, but all were alike unsuitable for the 
enterprise upon which they were so eager to embark. 

It must have been with a sinking heart that Peter contem- 
plated this first fruit of his efforts, and bitterly must he have 
repented the freedom with which he and his companions had 
given the cross to all comers. But why, even then, either he 
or Urban should have permitted such a rabble to set out at all 
is a mystery. They knew to a certain extent at least what a 
journey to the Holy Land entailed, and must have realised 
that most of the wretches were but courting death. Perhaps 
they fancied that after a few days' march the most unsuitable 
ones would think better of it and return home, and we must 
hope that this was the case to a larger extent than history 

The Crusades were prefaced by a bloody persecution of the 
Jews. The mob, ever eager for an excuse to plunder this un- 



happy people, 8acked and massacred without mercy in Cologne, 
Mainz, Verdun, Treves and other cities. At last the emperor, 
Henry IV., interfered, and his influence protected them for a 

The first section of mob crusaders was composed of persons 1096, 
who came mainly from Northern France and followed Peter 
the Hermit across the Rhine. Too impatient to wait for the 
German contingent which was gathering, they set out by them- 
selves. A Burgundian knight, Walter de Poissi, a man of 
soldierly qualities, undertook the leadership, and did his best 
to keep his rabble following under control. They started by 
way of Hungary and Bulgaria, and kept order for a time. 
Whilst their money lasted and they were able to buy pro- 
visions all went well, but when the money was exhausted they 
began to plunder as if they were in an enemy's country. 
Bloody retaliation followed, the host was scattered, and great 
numbers were killed. The rest struggled on to Nisch, where 
the governor kindly furnished them with guides and food, so 
that they were able to reach Byzantium in safety. Their 
numbers were enormously reduced, for many had been slain, 
and many of the unarmed men and of the women and children 
had been seized and sold as slaves to pay for the damage which 
the host had done. 

Peter the Hermit followed with the German contingent. 
He was a less competent leader than Walter de Poissi, and his 
followers did much as they pleased. At Nisch the governor 
would have repeated his former kindness, but some scoundrels 
abused his hospitality and set fire to seven valuable mills on the 
river. After this he left his people to deal with them as they 
liked, and they took a terrible revenge. The crusaders were 
attacked, defeated and scattered with the loss of many lives 
and such treasure as they were possessed of. Out of the great 
company which had set forth only 7,000 reached Constanti- 
nople. The rest had been slain or sold into slavery. 

A third horde marched under Gottschalk, a German priest. 
They were mostly of the vagabond type and soon gave them- 


selves up to debauchery. Such was the infamy of their con- 
duct that Caloman, the king of Hungary, ordered that they 
should be massacred. 

A fourth crowd composed of yet more unmitigated ruffians 
gathered on the banks of the Rhine and Moselle. They had 
warriors amongst them, and were led by Volkman, a priest, 
and count Emico, a blackguard. Their behaviour was atroci- 
ous, and at Merseburg, in Hungary, the people rose upon them. 
Many were slain, many drowned ; the survivors struggled 
back to Germany or through Bulgaria to Constantinople. 

The sorry remnants of these mobs now gathered into one 
company outside Byzantium. The emperor Alexius I. was 
amazed at this extraordinary result of his appeal ; neverthe- 
less he treated the wretches with hospitality, and advised them 
to await the arrival of the regular crusading armies. But 
finding that they could not restrain their thieving propensities, 
but were actually stripping the lead from the church roofs and 
selling it, he deemed it safer that they should cross to Asia. 
This accordingly they did, and he supplied them liberally with 
food until the regular forces should arrive. 

Even in Asia they behaved disgracefully. Peter the Her- 
mit, finding that he had no control over them, returned to 
Constantinople ; Walter remained in Asia. Kilij Arslan, the 
sultan of Roum, now took action. A band of crusaders had 
seized a deserted fortress and refortified it. He besieged it, 
and in eight days the fortress fell. The sultan then marched 
against the town of Civitot, round which the other crusaders 
were lying in fancied security. He surprised their camp by 
night, and slew thousands, Walter among the rest. The sur- 
vivors took refuge in a fort, and held it until imperial troops 
came to their relief. Of the hosts that had started from 
Europe a few months before, only 3,000 survived. Three 
hundred thousand lives had been lost, and nothing achieved. 

At length the crusading armies began to move. No 

1096. sovereign took part in this crusade, the leaders were princes 

of the second rank. As it was felt that the numbers of the 


crusaders would be too great to permit of marching in one 
body, the host divided into five sections, each under its chosen 
leader, who made such arrangements as he best could for safe 
passage and provision on the route which he followed. 

Godfrey of Bouillon was the most prominent of the leaders. 
He was son of that Eustace of Boulogne who had accompanied 
William the Conqueror to England, and had with him his 
two brothers Baldwin and Eustace. His forces were largely 

Raymond of Toulouse, lord of Southern France, had a 
great following from Provence. With him was bishop Adhe- 
mar of Puy, the papal legate, appointed by the pope spiritual 
head of the combined hosts. 

Hugh of Vermandois, brother of Philip I., king of France, 
led the forces of Northern France. King Philip, who remained 
at home, was at present under sentence of excommunication, 

Robert of Normandy, son of William the Conqueror, led 
another host. With him were Robert of Flanders, Stephen of 
Blois, and many Norman nobles. He had mortgaged his 
duchy to obtain funds for the venture. 

Bohemond of Taranto, who led another host, came, deter- 
mined to win a principality for himself. He was son of 
Robert Guiscard, the Norman ruler of Naples who had made 
war upon Alexius. Alexius regarded him with a suspicious 
eye, and not without reason. With Bohemond marched Tan- 
cred, his cousin, whose virtues have been exaggerated in 

Count Hugh of Vermandois, the brother of the king of 
France, was earliest on the march. He passed through Italy 
to Bari, and thence crossed the Adriatic to Durazzo. His 
fleet was scattered in a storm, and when he landed he was con- 
ducted to Constantinople as a prisoner. Alexius treated him 
with courtesy, but held him a hostage for the good behaviour 
of the rest of the crusaders. We can hardly blame Alexius, 
for his experience of crusaders had been strange enough thus 

far, and he knew not what might follow. 
VOL. II. 30 


Godfrey marched safely to the Hungarian frontier. There 
he was kept waiting until he had given hostages, after which 
he traversed Hungary in peace. Arrived at Philippopolis, he 
heard that Hugh of Vermandois was a prisoner, so he sent 
en\oys demanding his release. When Alexius demurred, God- 
frey began to lay waste the country, but when the emperor 
pledged himself to release the count, Godfrey ceased to 
plunder, and advanced peaceably to Constantinople. 

Bohemond and Tancred crossed the Adriatic to Durazzo, 
and thence marched overland to Constantinople. 

Raymond of Toulouse chose a rough road, skirting the 
Atlantic, over the Dalmatian mountains, to Durazzo. His men 
suffered severely on the march, and between Durazzo and 
Constantinople were often attacked by the tribes. Raymond 
retaliated with the cruelty of a savage, cutting off the noses 
and ears of such as he captured, 

Robert of Normandy came through Italy. With him were 
Robert of Flanders, Stephen of Blois, and Odo of Bayeux. 
He left his followers at Bari and went to Sicily for the winter. 
Whilst he enjoyed himself there, his men had a bitterly hard 
time on the coast. Some returned home in disgust. Robert 
of Flanders braved the winter storms and went on. In the 
spring Robert crossed to Durazzo with the rest of his army, 
1097. and at last reached Constantinople. Odo, his uncle, who ac- 
companied him, died at Palermo. 

Alexius was greatly alarmed at this influx of warlike men. 
He had pleaded for ten thousand men to act under his instruc- 
tions. Instead, there had come a multitude who scorned his 
authority, rode roughshod over his people, and repaid kind- 
ness with insolence. Some, such as Bohemond, he knew to be 
sworn enemies, the rest he mistrusted. To protect himself he 
demanded an oath of fealty from the leaders, and stipulated 
that, in return for shipment across the Bosphorus, and facili- 
ties for their journey through Asia Minor, they should restore 
to the empire whatever places they might conquer, which had 
belonged to it in former times. With places which had never 


been the property of the empire they might of course do as 
they liked. The crusaders objected to the arrangement, but 
they were disunited and mutually jealous, and Alexius got his 
way. The leaders were then gratified with rich gifts, and 
amity was restored, 

Godfrey of Bouillon crossed to Asia in March, and in May 
the host assembled on the plains of Nicsea. The numbers can 
only be guessed. There may have been half a million all told, 
but a large number were non-etfectives, women, children and 
priests. Many of the crusaders, ignorant of the conditions of 
life in the East, had come with the view of settling, ancJ had 
brought their families with them. 

Nicaea was the Seljukian capital, and the sultan of Roum 
had left a sufficient garrison there and taken to the hills with 
the rest of his forces. He attacked the crusaders furiously, 
but was repulsed. Siege was then laid to Nicaea, but the city 
was defended with stubbornness and for some time the issue 
was in doubt. Nicaea could not be entirely surrounded, as it 
lay upon a lake across which supplies and reinforcements 
could be brought, and the crusaders had no ships. They 
appealed to Alexius, and the Byzantines brought boats to 
Civitot and dragged them overland to the lake. After this 
the fall of the city was only a question of time. Alexius pointed 
this out to the citizens, and advised them to yield to his 
clemency rather than risk the wrath of the crusaders if they 
took the city by storm. They agreed to yield, and the 
crusaders were amazed by suddenly seeing the Byzantine 
banners upon the battlements. For a time they were en- 
raged, thinking that Alexius had robbed them of their prey ; 
but the emperor had acted wisely, and he compensated them 
for loss of booty by giving to them lavish gifts. 

Proceeding southward the crusaders were attacked at Dory- 
laeum by the sultan. The battle was fiercely contested, and 
ended in his entire discomfiture. He fled to the East to obtain 
reinforcements, and meanwhile instructed his remaining forces 
to hurry southward and devastate the country through which 


the crusaders must pass. The crusaders had therefore to 
march through desolated regions, and their sufferings were 
intense, many thousands dying by the way. 

From Cilicia, Baldwin, brother of Godfrey, diverged east- 
ward to Edessa, hearing that the country there was rich, and 
inhabited by Christians who would be glad of protection. He 
was well received by the citizens, and won their hearts by 
marrying an Armenian princess. He became king of Edessa, 
and this, the first principality founded by the crusaders, lasted 
half a century. Though Baldwin may have acted from selfish 
motives, Edessa was of high strategic importance, providing a 
barrier against the Turkish advance, and thus protecting the 
later Latin kingdom of Jerusalem. 

Antioch was reached in the autumn and besieged for six 
1097. months. At first food and wine were abundant, and there 
was great waste ; then winter brought famine and terrible 
suflfering. To famine pestilence was added, the heavy rains 
turned the camp into a morass and thousands died. Desertion 
became frequent. Robert of Normandy went to Laodicea, and 
only came back under threats. Peter the Hermit tried to 
escape to Europe, but was chased and brought back by Tancred, 
and made to swear that he would not again fly. 

Whilst the siege of Antioch was in progress, envoys came 
from the Fatimite caliph of Egypt, off'ering to co-operate with 
the crusaders against the Seljukian Turks, who were then in 
possession of Jerusalem, if they would recognise his supremacy 
in Palestine. He would guarantee to the Christians full free- 
dom of pilgrimage to the holy places. The alternative, he 
pointed out, must be war, not only between the crusaders and 
the Turks, but between the crusaders and the whole Moslem 
world. The caliph was justified in putting the matter in this 
way, because until the advent of the Turk, for a period of 
several centuries, the relations between the Christians and the 
Moslems in Palestine had been on the whole amicable, and 
pilgrims had experienced no difficulty in Jerusalem. But to 
the crusaders, who had very vague ideas of the historical 


aspect of the question, one Moslem was the same as another, 
and they declared that they would rather fight the whole 
Moslem world than leave a stone of Jerusalem in Moslem 
hands. These were brave words, but their folly is evidenced 
from the fact that with the exception of one brief space 
Jerusalem has been in Moslem hands from that day to this. 

When the leaders had almost despaired of capturin<j^ 
Antioch, Bohemond offered to show them how the city might 
be taken, if they would promise him the sovereignty. They 
agreed, and he then explained that he was in correspondence 
with a Moslem captain, who was willing to admit them at his 
tower. Accordingly a night was fixed for the surrender, and 
the wall was surmounted by a scaling ladder. Gates were 
then opened, and the army rushed in. An indiscriminate 
massacre ensued. 

Affairs now took a strange turn. The city was won, but 
the citadel was still in Moslem hands, and whilst the crusaders 
were fighting for its possession an immense Turkish army 
suddenly came upon the scene. It was led by Kerbogha, 
sultan of Mosul, who had gathered a huge host for the relief 
of his co-religionists. The besiegers were now themselves 
I^esieged, assailed by foes, both within and without. When 
matters had gone on for a month like this, and the condition 
of the crusaders seemed desperate, their courage was revived 
by a trick. Peter Bartholomew, a priest of Marseilles, declared 
that in a vision St. Andrew had revealed to him the place 
where lay hidden the very spear which had pierced the side 
of our Lord ; and had assured him that if this weapon were 
found and carried before the host it would bring victory. 
After fasting and prayer, twelve men proceeded to dig at the 
spot indicated. When midnight came,, and still no spear had 
been found, Peter Bartholomew suddenly sprang into the ex- 
cavation, and with a shout of triumph held up the head of a 
lance wrapped in cloth. The news spread, the drooping spirits 
of the soldiers revived, and inspired with fresh zeal they 
issued from the city and rushed upon the foe. A tremendous 


battle was fought, but the crusaders, nerved with the courage 
of despair, won the day. Sad to relate, some months after 
this the good faith of Peter Bartholomew was impugned, and 
he was allowed to subject himself to a fiery ordeal. He 
emerged alive from the flames, but died of his wounds. That 
he performed a trick is certain, but it was an innocent trick, 
which had saved the army, and he deserved a better fate. 

Whilst the fall of Antioch was yet in suspense, many even 
amongst the nobles had deserted and set out for home. On 
their way across Asia Minor they met Alexius marching with 
an army to the crusaders' relief. Some of the crusaders, 
amongst whom was Stephen count of Blois and Chartres, son- 
in-law of William the Conqueror, gave Alexius such a doleful 
account of things that he took fright and returned to Constan- 
tinople. When the crusaders heard what had happened they 
were justly furious, and after their victory they sent Hugh 
of Vermandois as an envoy to Alexius to say that unless he 
brought forces to their aid, and led their army to Jerusalem him- 
self, they would retract their promises of allegiance. Alexius 
did not come. He dared not leave Constantinople at so critical 
a time, and he knew that even if he joined the ranks of the 
crusaders they would not obey him. Hugh of Vermandois 
did not trouble to return with Alexius' message of regret, but 
hied homeward. As for Stephen, he also went home, but was 
so coolly received by his wife that he preferred to set out again 
for the Holy Land, and this time he did not return. 

Had the crusaders marched at once upon Jerusalem they 
might have captured the city with little loss. But the march 
was postponed for ten months. During that time the cru- 
sading chiefs wandered over Syria, capturing cities for them- 
selves. Much time was lost and little advantage gained. On 
the contrary, the enemy were enabled to garrison and revic- 
tual Jerusalem, and strengthen its fortifications. Worse still 
they destroyed the wells and water-tanks in the neighbourhood. 

During the delay at Antioch a plague visited the camp, 
and thousands perished. Amongst these was Adhemar, the 


papal legate. The news of the fall of Antioch brought fresh 
crusaders from Europe, amongst them being Edgar Atheling, 
the young Saxon prince who had a claim to the English crown. 

At last the crusaders left Antioch. So greatly had the 1098. 
effective strength of the army been reduced by death and 
desertion, that only about 50,000 men set out for Jerusalem. 
The march southward was easy enough. The troops kept to 
the coast, and were furnished with provisions by a Genoese 
and Pisan fleet. But time was wasted attacking minor cities 
on the way, and there was much quarrelling. When the army 
was before Arkas, ambassadors again came from the caliph of 
Egypt, proposing a treaty. Jerusalem had now fallen into 
his hands, the Seljukian Turks having been expelled that very 
summer, and he was able to guarantee all that he had offered. 
He was prepared to give full freedom to pilgrims, and would 
bestow splendid gifts upon the crusading chiefs. His overtures 
were again rejected. 

At last, about midsummer, the crusaders reached Jerusalem. 1099, 
The city had been garrisoned by the caliph with 40,000 men, 
mostly Egyptians. Perceiving that their forces were not 
sufficiently great to enable them to encompass the city, the 
crusaders tried an assault. It was repelled with loss, and they 
then began a regular siege. But the army suffered so terribly 
from want of water that they had at length to try a second 
assault. This time they made careful preparation. Battering- 
rams, siege towers and engines were constructed, and when all 
was ready and the soldiers had been inspired by a religious 
procession, the assault began. On the first day it failed. But 
breaches had been made, and next day the assault was renewed 
with redoubled fury. At last the city was won. The slaughter 
that ensued was terrific. Neither age nor sex was spared. 
The mere description harrows the soul. 

" If you desire to know," wrote Godfrey to the pope, 
" what was done with the enemy, know that in Solomon's 
porch and temple our men rode in the blood of the Saracen to 
the knees of their horses." 


Another says : " When our men had taken the city there 
were things wondrous to be seen. For some of the enemy 
were reft of their heads ; others riddled through with arrows 
were forced to leap down from the towers ; others, after long 
torture, were burned in the flames. In all the streets and 
squares were piles of heads and hands and feet." 

A third eye-witness says : " The dead were heaped up in 
mountains to be destroyed by fire. Such a slaughter of pagan 
folk had never been seen or heard of ; none knows their 
number save God alone." 

When the crusaders were weary with slaughter they went to 
the Holy Sepulchre and bewailed their sins. A day or two later, 
like giants refreshed, they returned to the work and deliberately 
massacred a great number who had been spared, men, women, 
and babes at the breast. They evidently looked upon this 
second massacre as a sacrifice specially well pleasing unto God. 

We cannot attempt to fathom the mental and spiritual con- 
dition of men who fancied they were serving God whilst doing 
such devilish work. But the case seems more deplorable when we 
remember that it was not the Seljukian Turks who were thus 
treated, but Moslems who had lived on friendly terms with the 
Christians for centuries, whose caliph had twice offered to the 
crusaders all the privileges they had formerly enjoyed, and 
which his enemies and theirs had taken away. 

Jerusalem was now won, and a governor had to be ap- 
pointed. For this post there was no very keen competition. 
Bohemond had received Antioch, Baldwin had Edessa, Stephen 
of Blois and Hugh of Vermandois were in Europe. Robert of 
Normandy was anxious to return. Raymond and Godfrey 
remained. But Raymond was unpopular and had to content 
himself with Laodicea. Godfrey was chosen for Jerusalem, 
and a better choice could not have been made. With a 
modesty which did him credit, Godfrey refused the title of 
king, accepting that of Defender and Baron of the Holy 
Sepulchre. With Godfrey remained Tancred with 300 knights 
and 2,000 foot soldiers, 


Scarcely was Godfrey appointed when news reached Jeru- 
salem that an Egyptian army was gathering at Ascalon. For- 
tunately the crusaders had not yet scattered, so they were able 
to march in strength against the enemy. The Egyptians, taken 
completely by surprise, were utterly overthrown, " cut down 
as men fell beasts at the shambles ". 

After these events the crusaders turned their faces home- 
ward. Partly from fear of their prowess, partly from thank- 
fulness at their departure, the peoples through whose lands 
they passed, facilitated their progress in every way. Most 
of them reached home safely, and were heroes for the rest of 
their days. Urban was already dead. Peter the Hermit re- 
tired to a monastery and appears in history no more. Thus 
did the curtain fall upon the first act of the strange tragedy. 



1099. Palestine had been rescued from the Moslem, and Jerusalem 
was the seat of a Latin monarchy. The triumph of the cru- 
saders seemed complete. Godfrey appointed a commission to 
prepare a code of laws for his kingdom. He did not live to 
see the code in operation. It was not finally settled until the 
reiffn of Fulk. It was known as the " assize of Jerusalem," and 
formed an interesting synopsis of the feudal customs of Europe 
as they then existed. The code had little practical bearing 
upon government in Palestine. Some centuries later the code, 
in an altered form, became law in the Latin kingdom of Cyprus. 

The news that Jerusalem was in Christian hands caused 
much excitement in Europe. Some who had gone to the 
crusade and returned ignominiously determined to go back 
and recover by fresh effort the laurels they had lost, others 
who had not gone at all went now. 

Three huge hosts set forth. Profiting little by the experi- 
ence of their predecessors, they marched as if on a pleasure 
excursion, men and women of every rank. They got to Asia 
with some degree of comfort, but after that their experiences 
were terrible. The scorching sun, the scarcity of water, the 
incessant attacks of the enemy, made their journey one pitiable 
record of misery and death. A few leaders and a handful of 
men struggled through, the rest perished. Hundreds of ladies, 
many of noble birth, had accompanied the expeditions, antici- 
pating a triumphal march from Constantinople to Jerusalem. 
Such as did not die on the way were reserved for the slave 
market and the harem. Hundreds of thousands of lives were 
sacrificed in these meaningless expeditions. 



One striking result of the crusades was the establishment 
of three semi-reliirioua, semi-military orders, the Hospitallers 
or Knights of St. John, the Knights Templar, and the Teutonic 

The Hospitallers or Knights of St. John were founded 
before the Crusades. Early in the eleventh century, in the 1023. 
days when pilgrims were protected by the Moslem rulers, the 
caliphs allowed the merchants of the Italian seaport of Amalfi, 
who were financially interested in the shipment of pilgrims, 
to establish a hospice at Jerusalem for poor and sick Latin 
pilgrims. The Amalfi merchants secured a site near the Holy 
Sepulchre and built a commodious hospice. The actual patron 
of the order was not St. John the Baptist, but St. John 
Eleemon (the compassionate), patriarch of Alexandria, but as 
this saint was little known the more familiar one became 
gradually recognised as patron. 

When Jerusalem was captured there were many wounded, 1099. 
and the Hospitallers showed them much kindness. When, 
therefore, Godfrey de Bouillon was elected governor he re- 
warded them with the revenues of his estates in Brabant. 
Other princes followed Godfrey's example, and the Hospitallers 
became rich. In 1113 their order was formally sanctioned by 
the pope, and in 1118, following the example of the Knights 
Templar, a younger and rival society, they enlarged the scope 
of their order so as to include military duties. 

The Knights Templar were established a century later than 1114. 
the Hospitallers. Hugh de Payne, a Burgundian knight, who 
had himself made the journey to Jerusalem, and witnessed the 
way pilgrims were maltreated, associated himself with eight 
like-minded knights and formed a society to protect them. 
King Baldwin II. gave them quarters on Mount Moriah, near 
the site of the Temple, and the Mosque of Omar was for a time 
the Church of the order. They were formally approved by 
the pope in 1128, and were, like the Knights of St. John, 
gradually endowed by their admirers until they became rich. 

The Hospitallers and Templars established houses in im- 


portant centres which served as homes for their aged and 
infirm knights, and as recruiting stations for young knights. 
Through them there came a constant supply of warriors for the 

1128. A third order, the Teutonic Knights of St. Mary's Hos- 

pital at Jerusalem, was founded in 1128, its members at first 
adhering strictly to religious and charitable work. After- 

1190. wards, during the siege of Acre, the order took the sick and 
wounded under their care, sheltering them in tents made out 
of the sails of the vessels. Thus they gained high patronage 
and were greatly esteemed. At a later period when the 
emperor Frederick came to Palestine under excommunication 
and the other orders held aloof, the Teutonic Knights stood 
by him faithfully. 

The Knights of St. John wore a black mantle, and upon the 
breast an eight-pointed white cross ; the Knights Templar wore 
a white mantle and had a plain red cross on the left breast ; 
the Teutonic Knights had a black cross on a white mantle. 

The military orders were useful to the Latin kingdom 
whilst it lasted. They became very wealthy. The Templars 
possessed 7,000 European manors. The Knights of St. John 
were also rich. Wealth brought abuses on both orders. The 
members became avaricious and arrogant, and fought amongst 
themselves. The pope had freed the Templars in Europe from 
other jurisdiction than that of their grand master and himself. 
Thus they became a danger to the states where they were 
established ; their power excited fear, their wealth cupidity. 

The loss of Jerusalem in 1187 deprived both Hospitallers 
and Templars of their head-quarters. They established them- 
selves at Acre, and remained there until 1291, when that city 
also fell. The Templars then removed their head-quarters to 
Cyprus, where they could do little. In 1310 Philip IV. and 
pope Clement V, suppressed the order in France. The sup- 
pression was justified, but not the cruelty by which it was 
accompanied. The members of the order were tried, some- 
times on baseless charges ; some were tortured, some even 


burned. Others were exiled, and the property of all was 
confiscated. In England the order was suppressed by Edward 
II., but without the cruelties practised in France. The Knights 
were allowed to enter monasteries. The landed possessions of 
the Templars were given to the Knights of St. John. 

The Hospitallers went to Rhodes when Acre fell, and did 
good service by holding that island against the Ottoman Turks. 
When the island was conquered in 1522 they established a 
new home in Malta. They managed to avoid the jealousy of 
monarchs, and thus to escape extinction. They have long 
ceased to be a military bodj^-, but as a charitable institution 
still exist. One of their establishments is in Clerkenwell, 

After the fall of the Latin kingdom in Palestine the Teu- 
tonic knights were transferred to the shores of the Baltic, and 
entered on a career of conquest there. They carried on a work 
of conversion and subjugation amongst the heathen of Lithu- 
ania and Prussia, and, holding fast to the lands which they 
subjugated, their grand master became the sovereign of the 
State which has grown into the modern kingdom of Prussia. 

Godfrey de Bouillon reigned as Baron of the Holy Sepulchre 
for but one year. Though in the heat of warfare he had 
shown himself capable of much cruelty, he ruled with fairness 
and wisdom, and died lamented. He was buried in the church 
of the Holy Sepulchre, where his tomb is still to be seen. 

Godfrey was succeeded by Baldwin L, his brother, who 
had been ruling at Edessa. Hearing that Godfrey was dead, 
Baldwin transferred the principality of Edessa to his cousin 
and namesake, Baldwin du Bourg, and hastened to Jerusalem, 
On his way he was attacked by the emirs of Damascus and 
Emesa, and defeated them. 

Baldwin's election was opposed by Dagobert, the papal 
legate, who coveted the position for himself, but Baldwin's 
promptitude made Dagobert's candidature impossible, and he 
unwillingly acquiesced in the appointment. 

After his coronation Baldwin captured Arsuf and Caesarea. 


Next year, when at Jaffa, he heard that an Egyptian army 
1102. was at Ramleh. He had with him at the time but 200 knights, 
but lie at once left Jaffa and fell upon the enemy. For the 
moment they fell back, but, the smallness of his force becoming 
at last apparent, they rallied, and his followers were slain 
almost to a man. Amongst them fell Stephen of Blois and 
many brave knights. Baldwin escaped. 

After the defeat of the Christians at Ramleh, Jaffa, the port 
of Jerusalem, was assailed by the Egyptians, Baldwin, seeing 
that it was in great danger, embarked upon the ship of Godric, 
an English pirate, and broke through the Egyptian cordon 
into the harbour. His arrival encouraged the citizens, and 
they were able to hold the city until reinforcements arrived. 

King Baldwin had many financial difficulties, and was not 
particular as to how he raised revenue. Tribute from uncon- 
quered towns was legitimate ; promiscuous plunder and the rob- 
bing of caravans was less so. He married a rich wife, Adela, 
widow of Roger, count of Sicily. She arrived in a ship rich 
with gold and gems, and brought 1,000 warriors in her train, 
but, after three years' experience of life in Palestine, she re- 
turned home. 

In his last years Baldwin I. invaded Egypt, and got within 
three days' journey of Cairo. But he fell sick and had to 
retreat to El Arish, a city on the frontier. There he died, 
and his body was buried in the Holy Sepulchre near that of 
Godfrey his brother, 
1118. The year that saw the death of Baldwin, king of Jerusa- 

lem, saw the death of Alexius, the Byzantine emperor. This 
monarch has been attacked unsparingly by historians, and to 
his perfidy most of the disasters of the early crusaders have 
been attributed. There is little need to seek any such ex- 
planation. For the most part the crusaders showed a lack of 
wisdom and an inability to profit by experience which suffi- 
ciently accounts for all the disasters they experienced. 

It is usual for nations to believe others less honest than 
themselves. Amongst the Romans Punic treachery was pro- 


verbial ; amongst the crusaders Greek perfidy passed into a 
proverb : and to-day the Oriental is believed by the Western 
to be the most treacherous of men. Yet the Carthaginians 
were as honourable as the Romans ; the Greeks were no worse 
than the crusaders ; and the Oriental is to those who win his 
confidence the most faithful of friends. Mutual suspicion is 
generally the result of mutual misunderstanding. The differ- 
ence between men is largely a question of environment, at 
heart they are much the same. 

Alexius had a most difficult part to play. As Gibbon well 
puts it, he was like a Bengal shepherd " ruined by the accom- 
plishment of his own wishes ; he had prayed for water : the 
Ganges was turned into his grounds, and his flock and cottage 
were swept away by the inundation. ... I cannot believe that 
Alexius maliciously conspired against the life or honour of the 
French heroes. The promiscuous multitudes of Peter the 
Hermit were savage beasts, alike destitute of humanity and 
reason ; nor was it possible for Alexius to prevent or deplore 
their destruction. The troops of Godfrey were less contempt- 
ible, but not less suspicious to the Greek emperor . . . Jeru- 
salem might be forgotten in the prospect of Constantinople " 
(Roman Empire, chap. Iviii.). 

That the fears of Alexius were not groundless, subsequent 
history proved, for, in the long run, the crusaders destroyed 
the Byzantine empire. For the moment, however, after the 
first crusade, the empire seemed to have profited. The Sel- 
jukian Turks had been driven from Bithynia ; and the sultan 
of Roum had to withdraw his capital from Nicaea to Iconium. 

Most of the leaders of the first crusade had now passed 
away. Godfrey died at Jerusalem, 1100 ; Hugh of Verman- 
dois at Tarsus, 1101 ; Stephen of Blois at Ramleh, 1102 ; Ray- 
mond of Toulouse at Tripoli, 1105 ; Bohemond, captured by 
the Turks in a petty expedition, 1103, was imprisoned for two 
years, during which Tancred ruled at Antioch in his stead. 
When Bohemond was released he fell to war with Alexius, who 
attacked Antioch, and reduced him to great extremities. 


Bohemond determined to obtain help from the West, and 
realising that his own presence was necessary in order to 
obtain adequate assistance, he left Tancred to govern Antioch, 
spread abroad a rumour of his death, and escaped from the 
city in a coffin. He reached Italy in safety, and thence passed 
to France, where he was well received by king Philip I. whose 
daughter he married. He then declared a crusade against the 
Greeks, crossed the Adriatic with 5,000 horse and 40,000 foot, 
and besieged Durazzo. The army was one of adventurers 
similar to that with which William the Conqueror had subdued 
England. But Bohemond could not fight a decisive battle at 
once as William had done, he had to sit down and besiege 
Durazzo. Soon he got into such difficulties that he had no 
alternative but to make peace with Alexius, declare himself 
his liegeman, and engage to hold Antioch as a fief of the 
Byzantine empire. He was greatly disappointed, and was 
perhaps planning revenge when he died in 1109. Tancred 
continued to rule in Antioch as regent but died in 1112. 

Robert of Normandy reached home just too late to secure 
the succession to England on the death of his brother William 
1101. Rufus. He invaded England claiming the crown, but the 
English supported his brother Henry and he had to content 
himself with Normandy. Quarrels broke out between the 
brothers and war ensued. Robert was defeated at Tenchebrai, 
taken prisoner, and sent to Cardiff Castle where he died, 1135. 

Robert of Flanders survived the crusade eleven years, and 
was killed by a fall from his horse. 
1118. When Baldwin I. was dying at El Arish he nominated 

Baldwin du Bourg, his cousin, who had succeeded him at 
Edessa, as his successor in Jerusalem, and he was elected. 
Baldwin II. was a man advanced in years, cautious and 
capable. Whilst endeavouring to relieve count Joscelyn, now 
count of Edessa, Baldwin II. was himself captured and con- 
fined at Khartpert. In his absence Eustace Grenier was 

Up to this time the Venetians had held aloof from the 


Crusades, thoii<;h the Genoese and Pisans had often helped the 
crusaders. The Venetians now determined to share in the 
plunder, and offered to assist in the conquest of Tyre on con- 
dition of obtaining one-third of the conquest. The city was 
accordingly besieged and fell in six months, the Venetian fleet 
playing an important part. 

A mouth later King Baldwin 11. was released. He reigned 1124. 
for seven years longer and then died. He was the last of the 
great heroes of the first crusade who had remained in Palestine. 

Fulk of Anjou, great-grandson of the Fulk already men- ii3i. 
tioned who made three pilgrimages to Jerusalem for his sins, 
and son-in-law of Baldwin II., now ascended the throne. He 
reigned successfully for twelve years, and died from the effects 
of a hunting accident. He also was buried in the Church of 
the Holy Sepulchre. 

Fulk left two sons, Baldwin, aged thirteen, and Amalric, 1143. 
aged seven. Baldwin III. succeeded to his father, Melisend, 
the queen, being regent. 

A change was now coming over the Moslem world. For a 
time despair had seized upon the Mohammedans. " The 
Franks," says one of their writers, " were spread far and 
wide ; their troops were numerous and their hands extended 
as if to seize all Islam." The Frankish possessions stretched 
from Egypt to the Euphrates, and the few cities that remained 
unconquered paid tribute. 

But now a Moslem conqueror arose, Zenghi, the ruler of 
Mosul, an important city on the Tigris. Zenghi's first con- 
quests were made at the expense of his Moslem rivals who 
dwelt between the Tigris and the Euphrates. But when he 
had conquered these he still pressed westward. Aleppo yielded 
to him, then Hamah, teth Moslem cities. 

Zenghi first crossed swords with the Franks by attacking iiso. 
Athareb, a frontier fortress. For some years afterwards he 
was engaged in civil war, but from this he emerged stronger 
than ever. His chief opponent amongst the Franks had been 
Joscelin, count of Edessa, to whom Baldwin du Bourg had 
VOL. II. 31 


resigned his principality when he became king of Jerusalem. 
But the old, warlike count died, and was succeeded by his son 
Joscelin II., a brave but careless man, " who lost the realm his 
father had ruled so well ". 
1144. Zenghi besieged Edessa and captured it in a month. Ar- 

menian citizens were spared, the Franks were slain without 
mercy. Two years later Zenghi was assassinated. Hoping to 
profit by his death, Joscelin II. tried to recover Edessa and 
made a night attack upon the city. He captured the city but 
not the citadel, and when Noureddin, the son of Zenghi, came 
with a relieving army, the Franks were caught between the 
two armies and cut to pieces. Joscelin himself escaped. 

The intelligence of the fall of Edessa created alarm through- 
out Europe. It was the first great Christian reverse since the 
capture of Jerusalem, and it inspired the princes of Europe to 
undertake a second crusade. Half a century had elapsed since 
the first ; its disasters had been forgotten ; its successes only 
were remembered. Eugenius III., the pope at this time, sent 
letters to Louis VII. of France and to his chief nobles, and 
delegated Bernard of Clairvaux to arouse Europe. Bernard 
was about fifty-four years of age, and had a European fame 
for sanctity and learning. He was highly intellectual and 
eloquent. His influence enrolled the two chief crowned heads 
of Europe in the enterprise, and made the crusade at once 

Bernard's first convert was Louis VII. Him he found 
eager for the enterprise. He had quarrelled with Innocent II., 
the former pope, and been excommunicated. This had led to 
war with the count of Champagne, and in the course of the 
war at Vitry 1,300 subjects of the count were burned alive in 
a church where they had taken refuge. Louis was so shocked 
by the calamity or sacrilege that he made peace with both 
count and pope, and determined to quiet his accusing con- 
science by a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When therefore intelli- 
gence reached Europe that Edessa had fallen, and that the 
Christians were being driven from their dominions, it was a 


trumpet call to Louis, and when Eugenius III. exhorted him 
to take up arms he consented without demur. 

At a council held at Vezelay the French king appeared, 1146. 
wearing the royal robes, side by side with Bernard, and when 
the monk, after an impassioned harangue, appealed for crusa- 
ders, Louis was the first to volunteer. Eleanor, his wife, fol- 
lowed, and the nobles and greater portion of the assembly took 
the cross. 

Bernard next passed into Germany. There he had more 
difficulty, for Conrad III., the emperor, thought he had 
troubles enough at home without going abroad to seek them. 
At length, however, Bernard's eloquence prevailed, Conrad 
gave way, and many distinguished princes with him joined 
the enterprise. 

When the preparations were complete, two great armies, 
the one under the command of Louis VII. the other under 
Conrad III., set out. The gross numbers were enormous, but 
as on former occasions there were many encumbrances, ladies 
of the court, soldiers' wives and children. 

Conrad was first on the march. He and Manuel, the 11-17. 
Byzantine emperor, had married sisters, but were not on 
friendly terms, and Manuel viewed the whole enterprise with 
disfavour. The crusaders marched through Hungary to the 
Eastern Empire. Everywhere they were met by black looks. 
The gates of cities were closed against them, and such food as 
was supplied was let down in baskets from the walls. Nor 
was the suspicion unreasonable, for though many of the 
crusaders were honest men, they were accompanied by a great 
number of thieves and desperate characters. Troops had to 
march parallel with them to restrain their lawlessness. 

At last the host reached Byzantium. Conrad did not see 
Manuel, but came to some agreement, guides were provided, 
and they crossed the Bosphorus. 

It was summer when the tableland of Asia Minor was 
reached. The crasaders found neither food nor water, and 
men and horses fell in crowds. Thus enfeebled they were 


attacked incessantly by the Turks, and proved an easy prey. 
At last they had no alternative but to retrace their steps, but 
only one-tenth of the original host reached the shelter of Nicsea. 

Louis set forth somewhat later at the head of a noble 
liost : 100,000 barons, knights, and fighting-men, besides a vast 
number of non-combatants. Starting from Metz, he ci'ossed 
the Rhine at Worms, the Danube at Ratisbon, traversed Hun- 
gary, and entered the Eastern Empire. Here they met with 
many difficulties, and so exasperated were they when they 
reached Constantinople that some even proposed to besiege it. 
But Louis refused to agree, and made friends with Manuel. 

When they had crossed the Bosphorus and reached Nicaea, 
the French were joined by the miserable remnant of the 
German expedition. The armies combined, and hoping that 
he might thus escape Conrad's fate, Louis adopted a different 
route. He marched by the coast, by way of Ephesus and then 
inland up the Meander Valley. Up to a certain point all was 
well, but when they entered Turkish territory the usual 
misery began. Not far from Laodicea they were attacked, 
and heavily defeated, losing their baggage, and many lives. 

After much suffering the remnant of the expedition reached 

1148. the seaport of Attalia in Pamphylia. Here Louis, with his 
queen and barons, embarked for Syria, leaving 7,000 men 
to get to Antioch as they best might. Louis landed safely 
at the mouth of the Orontes, the unfortunates who had 
been left chose between death, Islam, or slavery. Three 
thousand of them preferred Islam. 

After resting in Antioch, Louis went to Jerusalem. There 
he met Conrad, who had come round from Constantinople to 
Acre by sea. A council was held with Baldwin III., the 
recovery of Edessa was postponed, and it was determined to 
besiege Damascus. The siege ended in a fiasco. Conrad re- 
turned to Germany in disgust. Louis remained a year longer, 
hoping to win laurels of some sort, and then went home. He 
reached Provence with 300 knights, the wreck of the mighty 

1149. force with which he had set out two years before. 


The disastrous issue of the crusade was a heavy blow to 
Europe. The reputation of Bernard of Clairvaux suffered 
greatly, for he had predicted its success with confidence. He 
now attributed its failure to the vices of its leaders. This 
was at any rate as good a reason as the perfidy of the Greeks. 
Bernard lived four years longer, but refrained fi-om again 
arousing warlike passion amongst the people. 

The first crusade had produced much misery, but some 
fruit. The second did nothing but mischief. The Latins in 
Palestine gained nothing by it, the Moslems learned how little 
they had to fear from Western Europe. And in France and 
Germany myriads of homes lay desolate. 



We have seen how the rise of Zenghi led to the fall of Edessa, 
and the fall of Edessa to the second crusade. In this crusade 
two great armies, the one German, the other French, were 
annihilated, and their leaders, Conrad and Louis, returned to 
their dominions deeply humiliated. Joscelin II., count of 
Edessa, made another effort to recover his patrimony, but was 

1149. defeated, captured, blinded and imprisoned. He died in prison. 
The territory he had governed fell into the hands of Noureddin, 
son of Zenghi, who crowned his father's work by the conquest 
of Damascus. 

The years that followed abounded in war and foray ; the 
Moslems increasing in strength, the Latins decreasing. Bald- 
win III., king of Jerusalem, did his best, but made little 
headway, for he had in Noureddin a foeman worthy of his 

1159. steel. Baldwin married Theodora, niece of Manuel, the Greek 
emperor, and hoped to have his help against his enemies. 
The emperor appeared in Syria with a great army, but, ap- 
peased by Saracen diplomacy, and alarmed by rumours of in- 
surrection at home, he returned, having accomplished little. 
Baldwin died some years later, and was succeeded by his 
brother Amalric. 

1163. The reign of Amalric brings us into touch with Egypt. 

Noureddin, sultan of Aleppo, was able to dominate Northern 
Palestine, but Southern Palestine could best be dominated from 
the Egyptian side. There were at this time two caliphs in the 
East, one at Bagdad, one at Cairo. The caliph at Cairo was 
a weak man, the creature of his chief officers, of whom two 
fought for supremacy. One of these sought the aid of Amalric, 



the Frank king of Jerusalem ; the other the aid of Nom-eddin. 
Noureddin saw that, if he could gain Egypt, and thus dominate 
the Latin kingdom both from the north and the south, it must 
soon fall. He therefore seized the opportunity thus afforded, 
and sent as his general Shirkuh, the uncle of Saladin. Amalric 
saw the danger that threatened him, and he also took action, 
determined either to control Egypt or have it for himself. He 
sent an army, and had success, capturing Pelusium and Alex- 
andria, and penetrating even to Cairo. He then returned to 
Palestine in triumph. 

Amalric had married Maria, a grandniece of the emperor 
Manuel, and the emperor impressed upon him the weakness of 
Egypt, and showed him how easily it might be conquered. 
Accordingly Amalric again invaded the countr}'' and captured 
Pelusium. But when he advanced on Cairo he found himself 
outflanked by Shirkuh, and had to retreat. Aided by a Greek 
fleet, he then besieged Damietta, but had to retire foiled. His 
withdrawal settled the fate of Egypt, which now turned en- 
tirely from the Franks to the Moslems. Shirkuh died, but 
was succeeded by Saladin, his nephew, a man of rare merit. 

Recognising Saladin's ability, Noureddin deposed the caliph 
of Egypt, thus ending a Fatimite dynasty which had ruled in 
Egypt for two centuries, and made Saladin governor. Saladin 
was not only able but popular, and Noureddin soon saw that 
he was more likely to be a rival than a lieutenant. Accord- 
ingly he determined to invade Egypt, and take the government 
into his own hands, but whilst he was contemplating these 
things he died. 

Noureddin's heir was but eleven years of age, so Saladin 1174. 
seized the supreme power, and proclaimed himself sultan both 
at Cairo and at Damascus, He was now in the position to 
which Noureddin had aspired, and had the Latin kingdom at 
his mercy. 

Two months after the death of Noureddin Amalric also 
died, and was succeeded by his son, Baldwin IV., a lad of 
thirteen, and a leper. Raymond, count of Tripoli, great- 


grandson of that Raymond of Toulouse who had been a leader 
in the first crusade, became regent for Baldwin IV. He did 
what he could, but the Franks were now overmatched by 
Saladin, whose forces swept the country. 

1185. Baldwin IV. died at the age of twenty-three, and was suc- 
ceeded by Baldwin V., another child, son of Sibylla his sister 
by her first husband, the marquis of Montferrat. Raymond 
continued to act as regent, and wisely made a four years' truce 
with Saladin. But the Franks were disunited, and, on the 

1186. death of the child king, Raymond was thrust aside, and Guy 
of Lusignan, Sibylla's second husband, was crowned. Most of 
the barons accepted Guy's kingship as an accomplished fact, 
but some remained implacable, among whom was Raymond. 

About this time Reginald of Chritillon broke the truce 
which had been made with Saladin, plundering Saracen cara- 
vans, and even threatening to attack Arabia. Infuriated by 
the breach of faith, Saladin gathered forces from every side 
and proclaimed a holy war. 

1187. Saladin's first engagement was with the Hospitallers and 
Templars. Led by their grand-masters, they opposed him at 
Nazareth, but were overthrown. A general muster of the 
Franks was ordered by Guy, and 50,000 assembled, Rajanond, 
count of Tiberias, being among the number. Intelligence 
reached the host that Saladin was besieging Tiberias, and some 
advised Guy to march to its relief. Raymond, who was the 
one chiefly interested, advised the king not to attempt to re- 
lieve the city, nor to meet Saladin's huge forces in the field at 
all, but to retreat and let him weary his men and spend his 
strength in sieges. The advice was good, but Guy, believing 
Raymond to be his enemy, would not be persuaded, and gave 
the order to advance. The result was fatal. At Hattin, near 
Tiberias, the crusading army was encircled by the Moslems. 
A battle was fought, long and fierce, but in the end the Franks 
were routed, and most of their leaders were either captured or 
slain. King Guy was among the captives, also Reginald the 
truce-breaker. Guy was treated with consideration ; Reginald 


was slain. Many Hospitallers and Templars were executed 
by Saladin for having broken truce. 

The Franks had now no army in the field, and Saladin was 
everywhere triumphant. Acre, Jericho, Ramleh, Arsuf, Jatia, 
Beyrout and Ascalon fell in succession. Tripoli and Tyre were 
as yet unconquered, the latter being saved by the heroism of 
Conrad of Montferrat, the brother of the first husband of 
queen Sibylla. 

On 18th September Jerusalem was invested, and on 1187. 
2nd October it capitulated. Saladin laid aside all revengeful 
thoughts, and treated the inhabitants with a magnanimity to 
which the Frankish records afford few parallels. The Mosque 
of Omar was cleansed, and again prayers to Allah went up 
from Mount Moriah in Moslem fashion. 

The fall of the Holy City made a great sensation in Europe. 
It is said to have killed Urban III., but he was dead before the 
intelligence could have reached him. The pride of the Western 
princes was touched, and all were stirred up to avenge so great 
a disaster. It seemed intolerable that a Saracen chief should 
thus defy Christendom. Frederic I., emperor of Germany, 
Henry II. of England, Philip II. of France, Richard of Nor- 11S8. 
mandy, the duke of Burgundy, the count of Champagne and 
many others assumed the cross. 

Two years' delay was given for preparation for the crusade, 
and a tax, known as the Saladin tithe, was imposed in Eng- 
land and perhaps in France, on all who did not take a personal 
share in the expedition. The tax was levied on laity and 
clergy alike and continued to be levied long after Saladin's 

Frederick I., called Barbarossa because of his red beard, 
was the first of the crusaders to move. He was a powerful 
king, an astute statesman, and an experienced general. 
Though sixty-seven years of age he threw himself into the 
enterprise with ardour. He raised a splendid army, and, 
determined to avoid the difficulties of former leaders, forbade 
^vomen to accompany the expedition, or pilgrims who had not 


enough money to maintain themselves. Whilst preparing he 
sent in knightly fashion a letter to Saladin and received a 
courteous reply. In his answer Saladin said : " If you wish 
for war we will meet you in the power of the Lord ; but if you 
wish for peace we will restore to you the Holy Cross, liberate 
all Christian captives, permit pilgrims to come freely and do them 
good ". Thus Saladin offered freely all that the Christians had 
formerly enjoyed and aU they could hope permanently to enjoy. 
But the Western princes were too fond of fighting to receive 
as a gift that which they might obtain at the point of the 

1189. Frederick set out from Ratisbon, passed through Hungary, 
and reached the Eastern Empire. There, as usual, obstacles 
were put in the way of the crusaders, and hostilities broke out. 
But Isaac Angelus, the Byzantine emperor at this time, was 
soon brought to terms. 

1190. Frederick wintered in Thrace and crossed to Asia in the 
spring. The sultan of Iconium had promised to aid him, and 
obstructed him instead; but Frederick pressed forward, de- 
feated his army, and took Iconium by storm. There he ob- 
tained every required supply, and having now passed the region 
which had been so fatal to former crusading armies he resumed 
his march under favourable conditions. But man proposes and 
God disposes. As the army passed through Cilicia their 
advance was checked by the River Selef. The bridge was 
narrow, and whilst the troops were crossing tediously, Frede- 
rick either bathed or attempted to cross the river. He was 
swept off his feet by the current, and dragged from the water 
in a dying state. It was a sad ending for a great man. 

Frederick's second son, the duke of Swabia, was in the 
host and became leader. But he had not his father's prestige 
and he failed to keep the host together. Some returned, some 
went to Tripoli, some accompanied him to Antioch. Frederick's 
remains were buried there in the Church of St. Peter, and his 
eldest son Henry, who had remained at home as regent, 
reigned in his stead. 


We saw how Guy, the king of Jerusalem had been taken 
captive by Saladin. Saladin released him on parole, Guy 1188. 
undertaking to return to Europe, But paying no regard to 
his promise he raised what forces he could and took the field. 
First he marched to Tyre, which Conrad of Montferrat still 
held, and demanded admittance as his liege lord. But Conrad 
bade him go and rest somewhere else. Tyre was his, he said, 
and he meant to keep it. Thus rebuffed, Guy departed to 
Ptolemais (Acre) and besieged it, thus beginning a notable 
chapter in crusading history. 

Acre was a city strongly fortified by nature and art, and 1189. 
Guy's small army was at first insufficient to invest the city. 
But as time went on his forces increased by arrivals from 
Europe, until about 80,000 men were engaged in the siege. 
These would have sufficed for every purpose had they been 
good men and of one mind. But they were neither. The 
camp was a centre of debauchery, and between the different 
nationalities there was little cohesion. To add to the diffi- 
culties of the situation, Saladin seized the surrounding heights 
and besieged the besiegers. 

The advent of Frederick with his splendid German army 1190. 
had been eagerly expected, and the news of his death, and the 
arrival of the meagre remnant of his army, created profound 
depression in the camp. There was also much pestilence, and 
the duke of Swabia was amongst the victims. It was amidst 
these troubles that the Teutonic knights distinguished them- 
selves by their earnest work amongst the sick and wounded, 
and thus earned a high reputation for their order, 

Sibylla, the titular queen of Jerusalem, died at this time, 
and to other miseries was added a dispute about the succession 
between Guy de Lusignan and Conrad of Montferrat. The 
claim of Guy was based on his marriage with Sibylla ; that of 
Conrad on his marriage with Isabel her sister. As Sibylla was 
dead, Conrad's claim was now as good as Guy's. The title was 
empty enough, yet the contest waxed furious and split the 
camp into two parties. Civil war was only averted by the 


suggestion that the matter should be left to the decision of 
Richard I. of England and Philip II. of France, who were 
now on their way. 

Richard I. had no sooner been crowned king on the death 
of his father Henry II. than he proceeded to raise funds for 
the crusade. Henry had already raised funds for that pur- 
pose, but the money had been spent on the war between father 
and son, so more must be had. Accordingly, money was 
raised by hook or by crook. Manors, offices, charters, privi- 
leges, including the privilege of staying at home, — everything 
that would fetch a price was sold. The king declared that he 
would have sold London had he found a purchaser. The Jews 
were plundered and, sad to say, massacred as well, forced loans 
were raised, and the resources of England were drained to the 
utmost. At last, to the general relief, Richard departed from 
England with his treasure and a turbulent crowd of followers. 

Richard and Philip determined to proceed to the Holy 

1190. Land by sea. They met at Vezelai, marched together to 
Lyons, and then separated to meet again in Sicily. They 
spent six months there and nearly wrecked the enterprise. 

Richard quarrelled with Tancred, king of Sicily, about the 
rights of Joanna his sister, widow of the former king. In 
order to coerce Tancred, Richard seized Messina. But in doing 
this he offended Philip who threatened war. Cordiality was 
never restored, and matters were made worse when Richard, 
who was engaged to Alice, Philip's sister, threw her over 
in favour of Berengaria, the princess of Navarre. When 
Richard's mother, Eleanor, brought Berengaria to Sicily, 
Philip at once sailed for Acre. 

Richard sailed a few days later. His fleet was scattered by 

1191. a storm, and some ships were wrecked on Cyprus. The crews 
were badly treated, and, when Richard arrived shortly after, 
he demanded redress. Isaac Comnenus, the king, refused it, 
whereupon Richard conquered the island, and made Isaac his 
prisoner. In Sicily Richard married Berengaria, and leaving 
a garrison set sail for Acre. 


With the arrival of Philip and Richard at Acre new life 
was infused into the siege, and the inhabitants seeing no hope 
of relief capitulated. The condition was that their lives should 
be spared, and they promised on Saladin's behalf that he would 
pay the usual ransom. As Saladin delayed in fulfilling the 
conditions thus put upon him, Richard declaring that faith 
had been broken ordered 5,000 Moslems to be slaughtered. 

The breach between Philip and Richard widened at Acre. 
The question of the kingship was referred to them. Guy had 
hastened to Cyprus to meet Richard, and obtained the promise 
of his support. On the other hand, Philip supported Conrad. 
A compromise was at length arrived at. Guy was to hold the 
crown whilst he lived, and at his death it was to pass to Conrad 
and his heirs. 

Philip was now utterly weary of the crusade, so he handed 
over the command of the French forces to the duke of Bur- 
gundy and went home. This left Richard commander-in-chief, 
but of a very disunited army. 

The crusaders marched from Acre southward towards Jerusa- 
lem. They were continually attacked, but by keeping the 
shore and being in constant touch with their fleet they made 
progress. Not far from Caesarea there was a general action 
with Saladin's army. The battle was fierce but the crusaders 
triumphed. Had Richard, pursuing his advantage, marched 
instantly on Jerusalem, the Arab historians acknowledge that 
it might have fallen. But he did not go to Jerusalem, but to 
Jafi'a. Jaffa soon capitulated, but precious time had been lost, 
and more time was lost refortifying the city. The army then 
marched to Ramleh, but the winter was at hand and the siege 
of Jerusalem had to be postponed. The opportunity had passed. 
Saladin had reprovisioned and fortified the city, and its capture 
was now extremely doubtful. 

Whilst affairs were in this state Conrad of Montferrat was 
assassinated, and Tyre was held by his widow, queen Isabella. 
Henry, count of Champagne, Richanl's nephew, hurried to 
Tyre and married queen Isabella, thus becoming, through his 


wife's rights, titular king of Jerusalem. Richard was acces- 
sory to the deed, but he compensated Guy de Lusignan by 
giving him Cyprus, which proved a more enduring inheritance, 
for the De Lusignan dynasty reigned there for 200 years. 

Once more the crusaders advanced on Jerusalem. But 
1192. when within sight of the city a council of war decided that 
the army was not strong enough for the enterprise. They 
were undoubtedly right. The force was insufficient for invest- 
ment, they had no commissariat worthy of the name, and 
Saladin was in the field with an army which could sever them 
from their base at any moment. Even while they considered 
the question, Saladin attacked Jaffa, and only the most heroic 
efforts on the part of Richard and those who still followed him 
saved the seaport from capture. 

The crusading army had now practically dissolved, and 
Richard saw that peace was imperative. Saladin was not un- 
reasonable, and a truce was arranged for three years and eight 
months. The Franks were to hold Jaffa, Acre and Tyre with 
the strip of coast land between, and pilgrims were to have free 
access to Jerusalem. As the Christians had possession of Tyre 
before the war, and Saladin had offered free access to pilgrims, 
the acquisition of Acre and Jaffa with the strip of coast land 
between was the sole fruit of this mighty enterprise which 
had so ch-ained the wealth of Western Europe. 

Richard I. now turned homewards, but his adventures were 
not yet over. His queen and soldiers had preceded him, and 
he followed with some companions in a single ship. He met 
with storms, and was wrecked in the Adriatic. Trying to 
cross Europe in the guise of a pilgrim, he was detected, cap- 
tured, and brought to Leopold, duke of Austria, whom he 
had grossly insulted during the siege of Acre. Leopold sold 
him for 60,000 pieces of silver to the emperor Heniy VI., of 
whom also Richard had made a mortal enemy. Henry VI. 
guarded him closely, tried him before the Diet of the Empire 
at Worms, and at last sold him to his English subjects for 


Before Richard's return to England Saladin had passed 1193. 
away. He died in Damascus, and before Ids death he ordered 
that his shroud should be carried through the streets of the 
city, while a herald proclaimed : " This is all that remains of 
Saladin, the conqueror of the East ". 



The third crusade, followed by the treaty with Saladin, had 
left Jaffa, Acre and Tyre in the hands of the Franks, and, by 
way of these ports, pilgrims might travel in safety to Jeru- 
salem. The treaty was honourably observed, and the Chris- 
tians of the East did not complain. 

1193. After the death of Saladin, his empire was divided between 

his three sons, and Malek-Ahdel, his brother. There was civil 
war between these, and pope Celestine III., hoping to profit 
by the dissension, appealed for a new crusade. At first there 
was no response to his appeal, but at length Henry VI. deter- 
mined to emulate Frederick Barbarossa, his father, and to lead 
a crusading army to Syria. There was no justification for the 
invasion ; the Christians of Syria did not wish to renew hos- 
tilities, and declared that war would do them harm and not 

1195. Three Teutonic armies set out; one led by the archbishop 

of Mayence ; one under the dukes of Saxony and Brabant ; 
one under Henry himself. The first army sailed from Apulia 
to Acre. When it reached Palestine it began ravaging the 
Moslem lands, notwithstanding the protests of the Christians. 
The result was that the Moslems healed their differences and 
united under Malek-Ahdel. Malek-Ahdel conquered Jaffa, and 
things were going badly for the crusaders when the second 
army landed at Beyrout, defeated the Saracens and turned the 

Henry VI. had taken the third army to Sicily, of which 
island he was nominally king. He had left the government of 
Sicily to his officers, and their oppression had raised rebellion. 



This rebellion he crushed out with brutahty. When he had 
thus secured the island for himself, he sent such forces as he 
could spare to Palestine. 

The three armies were now together, and it was proposed 
that they should march on Jerusalem. But winter was ap- 
proaching, so they postponed their attack until the spring. 
As usual the delay was fatal. To keep the men out of mischief 
they occupied themselves with the siege of Thoron, a fortress 
between Lebanon and the Mediterranean. Thoron was strongly 
fortified, but the besiegers made such progress that the gar- 
rison offered to surrender if their lives were spared. But when 
they saw from the difference of opinion amongst the crusaders 
that some of them meant to have their blood, they determined 
to sell it dearly, and fought with such energy that the cru- 
saders gave up the contest. Soon after news came that Henry 1197. 
VI. was dead, whereupon many of the knights and barons 
went home. A remnant of the force was left at Jaffa, and 
these were surprised during a festival and massacred to a man. 

Celestine died, and Innocent III. now filled the papal chair, iias. 
He was an extremely ambitious man, and, notwithstanding 
the lamentable experiences above mentioned, he called upon the 
rulers of Europe to once more gird on the sword. The rulers 
were slow to move, but at last a sufficient number of knights 
and nobles gave ear to the appeal and assumed the cross. They 
held a conference, elected count Theobald of Champagne as 1200. 
their leader, and fixed 1202 as the date of departure. Anxious 
to avoid the misfortunes which had so often attended crusaders 
on the land journey, they arranged with the republic of Venice 
for sea transport. The Venetians undertook to furnish the 
requisite ships for men and horses, provisions for a year and 
fifty fighting galleys, in return for a large sum in cash, and 
half the cities and lands that might be conquered. 

It happened that at this time there was a failure of the 
inundation in Egypt and a sore famine. To famine had suc- 
ceeded plague, and 100,000 people are said to have died in 

Cairo alone. In the twentieth century a visitation of this sort 
VOL. II, 32 


would lead to a general subscription on behalf of the sufferers, 
but in the thirteenth men could think of nothing better than 
adding to the sorrows of an already profoundly miserable 
people by bringing upon them the horrors of war. By the 
advice of the pope, Egypt was chosen as the destination of the 
crusading fleet. 

Venice was now a power in Europe. Though her territory 
was small, her commercial interests were large, and she was 
always eager to further them. But she was at peace with 
Egypt, and had a profitable trade with that country. The 
Venetians were on good terms with Malek-Ahdel, they en- 
joyed special privileges at Alexandria, and they carried on by 
way of Egypt an extensive trade with India. It did not suit 
the Venetians therefore to transport the crusaders to Egypt, 
and Dandolo, the doge of Venice, when he contracted with the 
crusaders had no intention of fulfilling that part of the bargain. 
Unfortunately, whilst Dandolo was willing to spare Eg3^pt, he 
was not so sensitive about other places. From the time that 
the crusaders began to gather round Venice, he determined to 
use their strength purely in the interests of the republic. 

Circumstances conspired to help Dandolo in his schemes. 
Alexius III., who now reigned in Byzantium, had deposed and 
imprisoned his brother Isaac II., who was himself a usurper. 
Isaac's son, also named Alexius, escaped, and took refuge 
with his relative the emperor Philip of Germany. Theobald 
the chosen leader of the crusade died, and Boniface of Mont- 
ferrat, a man of a lower type, was chosen instead. Boniface, 
who was also related to the imprisoned monarch, had visited 
Philip's court and met young Alexius there. Perhaps it was 
even then arranged, with the approval of Dandolo, that the 
crusaders should sail by way of Constantinople and place 
Alexius on the throne. Such of the chiefs as were open to 
bribery would be privy to the plot, the others would be kept in 
1202. At the time appointed for leaving Venice onlj^ half the 

crusaders had arrived, and less than half the passage money 


had been paid. The crusaders teing at the end of their re- 
sources, Dan<lolo offered to cancel tlie balance of the debt if they 
would help him to reduce Zara, the capital of Dalmatia, a city 
lying on the Adi-iatic and a formidable trade riv^al. Zara was 
a Christian city and belonged to the king of Hungary, who 
was himself a pledged crusader. The proposal was therefore 
monstrous. The pope denounced it, and many of the crusaders 
protested. Four hundred and eighty ships, however, sailed 
from the lagoons with trumpets sounding and priests chanting. 
Zara soon fell, and such of the inhabitants as were not slain 
tied, leaving houses and goods. The crusaders wintered at 
Zara, but some went home in disgust. 

During the winter ambassadors came from Philip of Ger- 
many ottering to the crusaders on behalf of young Alexius two 
liundi-ed thousand marks of silver, a year's maintenance, and a 
reinforcement of 10,000 men, if they would place him on the 
imperial throne. To gratify the pope and satisfy the con- 
sciences of such crusaders as had any, Alexius further promised 
that he would subject the Greek Church to the Roman pontitt'. 
The terms were agreed to by the chiefs, but not divulged to the 
rank and file, and the combined armament sailed for Corfu. 

When the fleet reached Corfu, and all learned their destina- 
tion, half the army was rebellious. But it was not easy to 
retm'n now, and Dandolo and Boniface persuade<l them to hold 
together until they had placed young Alexius, who had now 
j(jiued the expedition, upon the throne, and filled their pockets 
with Byzantine gold. This done they would all hie away 
together to the Holy Land. But for the Holy Land Dandolo 
cared not one whit. Venice was to him all in all. He had 
used the crusaders in the interests of the republic at Zara, and 
he would do the same at Byzantium. 

On 23rd June the allies arrived within sight of Constanti- 1203. 
nople. The city had been badly governed for half a centurj^ 
The people had lost heart, the emperors depended upon foreign 
troops, and the fleet had fallen into decay. Scarcely twenty 
vessels were fit for service. 


When the huge crusading armament confronted the city 
Alexius III. shut his gates and tried negotiation. Assuming 
that the Holy Land was their goal, he offered to help them 
thither, but warned them that if they attacked the empire they 
would be crushed. The Latins replied that they had come to 
depose a usurper and restore to young Alexius his heritage. 
It is true that Alexius III. was a usurper; but his brother 
Isaac had been the same, and Alexius his nephew had no more 
right to the throne than the others had. 

An assault was determined on, and the crusaders, who had 
massed at Scutari, moved to the European side. The crusaders 
assaulted the walls on the land side of the city, the Venetians 
attacked from the sea. The crusaders failed in their operations, 
but the Venetians made good their footing. That night the 
emperor Alexius III. fled, and the troops, seeing nothing now 
to fight for, gave the crusaders their own way, brought Isaac 
out of prison and set him on the throne. They told the 
crusaders what they had done and invited them to send in 
young Alexius to be co-emperor with his father. Before doing 
this the crusaders sent envoys to Isaac to demand a ratification 
of their contract with his son. The old man ratified it, but 
with amazement, declaring that it could not be carried out. 

Isaac and his son Alexius IV. did their best to satisfy the 
demands of the crusaders. The treasury was ransacked, the 
palace stripped, the monasteries and churches were placed 
under contribution. But all did not avail. Moreover the 
crusaders had tasted blood, and regretted that the Greek sur- 
render had robbed them of their chance of storming and 
plundering the city. Some revenged themselves by attacking 
and looting the quarter occupied by Moslem traders. When 
they were driven back they set the houses on fire, and the wind 
being strong the fire raged until a most valuable quarter of 
the city was destroyed. The maddened popvilace fell upon the 
Latin residents, who fled to the crusading camp for refuge. 
1204. These things led to a revolution in the city, the people de- 

claring that they would no longer be governed by men who 


had thus sold them to their enemies. Anarchy ensued, Isaac 
died of fright, Alexius IV. was strangled, and a noble named 
Alexius Ducas, son-in-law of Alexius III., seized the throne. 

Alexius V. (Ducas) tlirew himself into his hard task with 
spirit, and strained every nerve to ward oft' the impending 
disaster. Had the citizens been whole-hearted they might 
even yet have resisted successfully. Alexius paid the sokhers, 
strengthened the fortifications, and compelled the citizens to 
arm in their own defence. 

The crusaders and Venetians prepared for the storming of 
the city with great deliberation. This time they concentrated 
their attack on the sea-wall. The first attack was a failure, 
and some of the crusaders, declaring that Providence was 
fighting against them, would have retired from the contest. 
But the Venetians demanded a second assault. Three days, 
therefore, were spent in resting and repairs, and then the 
second attack was delivered. This time they were successful. 
Such fighting men as were left in the city lost heart, and 
would not face the foe. Alexius V. escaped in the night, and 
Theodore Lascaris, his general, having first tried to rally the 
Greeks in vain, also escaped. Resistance was at an end, and 
Byzantium was passive in the hands of her conquerors. 

Though fighting had now ended, the crusaders proceeded 
to sack the city. Government buildings were guarded, all 
private property was given up to plunder. The scenes that 
ensued were beyond description. Outrage, robbery, violence, 
reigned supreme. The churches were defiled. St. Sophia, 
then the grandest Christian edifice in the world, was foully 
desecrated. Its altars were broken to pieces, its hangings 
were torn down, its sacred chalices were used for drinking 
cups. Drunken revellers played dice at its tables, and in the 
patriarch's seat a harlot was enthroned. Coffins were broken 
open and tombs rifled in search of golden ornaments and geme. 
Amongst the rest the tomb of Justinian was desecrated, and 
remains were exposed which had lain for six centuries at rest. 

Historic monuments and works of art of priceless value, 


the accumulation of a thousand years, were destroyed in a 
moment. Marble statues were broken, bronzes were melted 
down for the sake of the copper. The well-known horses on 
the portico of St. Mark were saved from the general wreck, 
and remain in Venice, a standing memorial of her unutterable 

The priests who accompanied the crusading army were as 
bad as the rest. Abbots and monks compelled the Greek 
priests on pain of death to surrender their relics and their 
treasure. With a strange mixture of blasphemy and folly 
one German monk boasted that he had thus obtained a piece of 
the cross, an arm of St. James, and the skeleton of John the 
Baptist. For some time after the siege there was a market 
in relics. Western churches eagerly purchasing all that they 
could get. But when it became evident that the supply was 
mysteriously keeping pace with the demand, the inquiries 

Language fails to adequately characterise these proceea- 
ings. Even Innocent III. was shocked. The pope who could 
doom the Albigenses to destruction, who had given the cru- 
saders permission to pillage as long as they did it in the fear 
of God, and who rarely allowed conscience to stand between 
him ami temporal interest, felt that the crusaders had gone 
too far. 

" You have given yourselves up to debauchery in the face 
of all the world, you have glutted your guilty passions, and 
you have pillaged in such fashion that the Greek Church, 
although borne down by persecution, refuses obedience to the 
Apostolic See, because it sees in the Latins only treason and the 
works of darkness, and loathes them like dogs." 

Often enough we have spoken of Moslem cruelty. But 
never in the world's history has Saracen, or Seljuk or Ottoman 
been guilty of greater villainy than was here perpetrated by 
men in the name of Christ. 

" Arise," Innocent had said in the summons which gathered 
them together, " Arise, ye faithful ; arise, gird on the sword 


and buckler ; arise, and hasten to the help of Jesus Christ. He 
Himself will lead your banner to victory." 

Having ruined Byzantium and divided the spoil, tlic Latins 
now proceeded to portion out the empire. Baldwin, count of 
Flanders, was elected emperor and crt)wned by the papal legate. 
Boniface of Montferrat, who had higlier claims, was not so 
popular, and had to content himself with the kingdom of 
Thessalonica. The Venetians claimed a three-eighths share, 
and took it out in islands and seaports, thus greatly increasing 
the wealth and power of their State. The rest of the empire 
was divided among the minor chiefs, few of whom got, and 
fewer of whom kept, effective possession of their allotted pro- 
vinces. Forty thousand men might destroy a city, but they 
could not govern an empire. 

The Latin Empire lasted for fifty-seven years, and, but for 
the strength of the walls of Constantinople, might not have 
lasted ten. Baldwin reigned for one year only. He was cap- 
tured by the Bulgarians and died in prison. His brother 
Henry succeeded him, and did his best, maintaining a defensive 
attitude in a gradually narrowing area. Boniface of Mont- 
ferrat, who with Dandolo must bear most of the infamy, was 
killed in 1207 ; Dandolo was already dead, 

Alexius V. was captured by the crusaders and thrown 
from the top of a pillar 150 feet high. Alexius III. had 
escaped to Iconium. Instead of living a quiet life there he 
must needs persuade the sultan to attack Theodore Lascaris, 
who ruled at Nicsea. They were defeated, and Alexius ended 
his days in confinement. 

Theodore Lascaris, who had fought so bravely during the 1206. 
siege, was now the acknowledged leader of the Greeks. He 
was crowned at Nicsea, and held his own against Latin and 
Moslem alike. John Ducas, his son-in-law, succeeded him, an 
excellent sovereign. He crossed to Europe and drove the 
Franks out of Southern Thrace, and afterwards actually laid 1230. 
siege to Constantinople itself. A Venetian fleet came to the 1235, 
rescue, and he had to raise the siege. 


1254. Theodore II. succeeded to Ducas and did well, but died 

in four years. His son was an infant, so Michael Paleologus 
ascended the throne. 

Meanwhile the Latin power in Constantinople had steadily 
waned. At last Baldwin II. travelled like a mendicant over 
Europe trying to raise money in order to stave off his doom. 
He was not without genius, for he got a large sum of money 
from Louis IX. of France, commonly called " St. Louis," for 
relics which included Moses's rod, the jaw-bone of John the 
Baptist, and the crown of thorns. How Baldwin arranged 
matters with the monk who had already interned John the 
Baptist's skeleton in Germany is not recorded. 

1261. Such was Baldwin's poverty that he sold the lead off his 

palace roof for cash, and deposited his son and heir with his 
bankers as collateral security. At length the end came. 
Whilst the Venetian fleet which protected Constantinople was 
absent on a marauding expedition in the Black Sea, a sudden 
and unpremeditated attack was made upon the city, the 
gates were opened by friendly hands, and the Latin Empire 
was at an end. 

The Latins and Venetians had conjointly wrought terrible 
evil. Even now we eat the bitter fruit of the tree which they 
planted. For centuries the Greeks had guarded the road to 
Europe against the Moslem, wearing out generation after 
generation of invaders. Now all was changed. The empire 
was torn to pieces, and though Byzantium lasted yet for 
two centuries she never again held her own. The Moslems 
increased in strength continually until Byzantium fell before 
them, and Vienna with difficulty barred their path. The 
crusading tragedy, in which the Fourth was so truly lament- 
able an Act, handed over South-Eastern Europe to six centuries 
of Turkish despotism. 



The fact that Constantinople was for a time in the hands of 
the Frank did nothing to help the Syrian Christians. But 
they had rest from another cause. We have spoken of a 
terrible famine and plague which visited Egypt. During the 1200. 
time of that visitation so many died that the sultan of Egypt 
had neither strength nor inclination for aggressive war. More- 
over, the plague spread to Syria, and there was much suffering 
there. Terrific earthquakes also visited the East, and enormous 
damage was done at Acre, Tyre, Tripoli and Damascus. The 
walls of Acre were thrown down, and had to be rebuilt by 

Henry, count of Champagne, whom Richard I. of England 
had left titular king of Jerusalem, was killed in 1197. His 
widow, Isabella, through whom he had his claim to the title, 
died 1205, and the title descended to Mary, daughter of Isabella 
by her former husband, Conrad of Montferrat and Tyre. 

Philip II. of France was asked to choose a suitable husband 
for Mary, and selected John de Brienne, a brave knight of no 
very exalted origin, who set out for Palestine accordingly. 
He reached Acre safely, was married to the queen, and crowned 1210. 
with her at Tyre. 

John de Brienne had only brought a retinue of a few 
hundred knights, and found himself so surrounded by difficul- 
ties that he appealed to pope Innocent III. for another cru- 
sading army. Innocent was willing, but the time was not 
propitious, and he got little response to his appeal. France 
and England were at war, in Germany rival emperors con- 



tended for the mastery, and the Albigensian persecution had 
plunged Southern France into the deepest gloom. 
1212. About this time the children's crusades took place. They 

afford a sad indication of the evil spirit abroad among the 
people. To-day the minds of our young are poisoned by vicious 
tales, in those days they were inflamed by accounts, only too 
true, of the crusades carried on amongst the so-called enemies 
of the faith. In their very sports boys played at burning 
heretics and cutting Moslem throats. Unscrupulous persons 
made a gain of the passions thus excited, and the fever spread. 
Numberless boys and girls ran away from home, and scoundrels 
both male and female encouraged them, and tramped with them 
from town to town, emptying the pockets of the charitable, 
and disappearing when trouble came. Some children got as 
far as the coast ports, begging their way. Each boy would be 
a David, each girl a Deborah, and the Mediterranean would 
dry up at their approach. The Mediterranean did not dry up, 
but they were lured on board vessels and consigned to the 
African slave markets. 

1216. No properly organised crusade had started in answer to 
pope Innocent III.'s appeal at the time of his death, though 
John of England, Frederick II. of Germany, and Andrew II. 
of Hungary, had each assumed the cross at his request. John 
died, Frederick delayed, and the king of Hungary was the 
only reigning sovereign who embarked on the fifth crusade. 
With him went the dukes of Bavaria and Austria, also forces 

1217. from Italy, France, and some islands of the Mediterranean. 

A considerable army gathered at Acre, and had the Sara- 
cens given battle at once all would have been well. But 
Malek-Ahdel had learned from experience wherein the chief 
weakness of the crusaders lay, and advised his people to let 
them alone. He knew that dissension would soon work more 
ruin amongst them than the enemy's sword. The event 
showed that he had rightly judged. The camp of idle men 
was soon a den of discord and debauchery, and when the 
leaders, to keep their men out of mischief, attacked a fort on 


Mount Tabor, they were repulsed. Recrimination followed, 
and some of the leaders went home in disgust. Amongst these 
was the king of Hungary. He did not return empty-handed, 
however, for he took with him relics, purporting to be the 
hand of St. Thomas, the head of St. Peter, and one of the 
water-jars used at Cana of Galilee. 121 8. 

Other crusaders arriving, John de Brienne persuaded the 
army to invade Egypt. Accordingly they set sail and reached 
Damietta safely. They besieged the city, and after much toil 
captured an important fort. But the siege was tedious, and 
many crusaders went home. Others arrived, including car- 
dinal Pelagius, the papal legate, an arrogant man who did 
much mischief. 

Malek-Kamel, the sultan of Cairo, offered to surrender 
Jerusalem to the crusaders if they would depart from Dami- 
etta and make peace. The military men would have agreed 
gladly, for the acquisition of Jerusalem was the main purpose 
of the crusade, but the papal legate refused to sanction the 
agreement. At last Damietta was taken by storm. The on- 1219. 
slaught was unopposed, and when they entered the city the 
crusaders found that of 70,000 inhabitants but 3,000 remained 

The Moslems now enlarged their conditions of peace, offer- 
ing not only Jerusalem but the Holy Land in exchange for 
Damietta, and again the military men would have made peace. 
But again the arrogant prelate refused to sanction a treaty and 
demanded that the hosts should march on Cairo, the capital of 
Egypt. After long delays, waiting for reinforcements that did 
not come, they marched. Ignorant of the nature of the country 1221. 
they soon got into difficulties. The Nile rose, the Egyptians 
broke down the sluices, and the crusaders were caught like 
fish in a net. There was no escape for them, and now the 
cardinal who had refused such favourable conditions of peace 
begged for peace at any price, offering to yield up everything 
if only their lives might be spared. The sultan of Cairo, 
though he could easily have allowed the host to perish to the 


last man, granted peace, provisioned the famished soldiers, and 
sent his son to lead them in safety from the land which they 
had come to destroy. Thus ended the fifth crusade, 

Frederick II. of Germany was the hero of the sixth crusade. 
He was grandson of Barbarossa, and son of Henry VI. and his 
wife Constance, heiress to the Sicilian throne. After Tancred's 
death Henry VI. assumed the Sicilian crown, and had wide- 
spread dominions, Sicily, Italy and Germany being under his rule. 
Frederick was born at Palermo the year of his father's corona- 
tion, and the next year Henry VI. returned to Germany, leaving 
Constance as regent. The high-handed conduct of his officials 
caused revolt, and we have seen in a former chapter how Henry, 
after setting two crusading armies in motion, led a third to 
Sicily to crush the rebellion. When he had effected this he 
sent the troops on to the East to join the others, and was him- 
1198. .self about to foUoAV them when he died. 

Constance died the year after her husband, and their child 
Frederick was left to the guardianship of Innocent III., who 
was elected pope just at that time. Innocent was a faithful 
guardian, and Frederick grew up a highly cultured man, per- 
haps the ablest man of his day. 

Frederick had been crowned king of Sicily in his fourth 
year, and in his eighteenth he entered into competition with 
Otto for the crown of Germany. Otto's power was shattered 
at the Battle of Bou vines, and he retired from the contest, so 
1215. that Frederick found himself at the age of twenty-one emperor 
without a rival. The influence of Innocent III. had been 
most valuable to him in connection with this matter, and in 
return for it Frederick had promised to lead a crusade. 

Frederick had been born and reared in Sicily, and there was 
more of the Italian than the Teuton in his disposition. In 
Sicily he ruled over men of varied creed, and had grown up 
broad-minded and tolerant. He was an excellent linguist, 
versed in literature, a mathematician, fond of natural history, 
an excellent sportsman and an abstemious man. He had no 
love for war ; he preferred diplomacy and statesmanship. He 


had Moslems amon<rst his Sicilian subjects, and tliey were loyal 
to him and spread his Tame abroad. His reputation I'or fairness 
reached E^^ypt and Syria and helped him greatly in his negotia- 
tions with the Saracens. 1220. 

When Frederick was twenty-six years of age pope Hono- 
rius III. crowned him emperor. In return he made many 
concessions to the clergy, and renewed his crusading vow. 
Frederick intended to carry out his promise loyally, but at his 
own time and in his own way. He knew the follies that had 
been committed by former crusaders, and had no intention of 
imitating their example. He therefore refused to join the 
expedition already described, in which John de Brienne and 
cardinal Pelagius brought a fine army to such unutterable 
grief. Honorius was exasperated, and when Damietta was 
lost he upbraided Frederick. But they became reconciled, and 
Frederick's departure was postponed by agreement. 1225. 

Frederick contracted a second marriage with Isabella, 
daughter of John de Brienne, heiress, since the death of Mary 
her mother, of the kingdom of Jerusalem. This match gave 
him a new and personal motive for undertaking the crasade. 

Honorius died and was succeeded by Gregory IX., an aged, 1227. 
obstinate man, who by his treatment of Frederick and his 
foolish belief that his own obstinacy and divine authority were 
synonymous did much mischief. 

On the da}^ of his accession Gregorj'- IX. issued a procla- 
mation to the Western sovereigns requesting them to join in 
a crusade, and he threatened Frederick with ecclesiastical 
vengeance if he did not at once get ready. Frederick was 
willing to go to Palestine, but had no desire to ravage Moslem 
lands unnecessarily, or to wade to Jerusalem through seas of 
blood. He had many Moslem acquaintances, he understood 
Arabic, he had corresponded for some time with Malek-Kamel, 
who was now sultan of Egypt, and had found him courteous 
and reasonable. He hoped to obtain by treatj'^ more than 
could be obtained by war. He believed that the sultan could 
be persuaded to recognise his kingship of Jerusalem, and to 


grant substantial advantages to the Christians without blood- 
shed. This was common sense, but it was neither the popular 
nor the papal idea of what a crusade should be. If plunder, 
outrage, and murder, were eliminated from crusading it would 
cease to attract, and where would be the short cuts to Heaven 
which had been dangled before the imagination of Europe for 
a century. 

During the summer a crusading army, containing German, 
Italian, French, and even English warriors, attracted by the 
expectation of Frederick's leadership, assembled near Brindisi. 
But the season was intensely hot; fever broke out, and 
thousands died. Amongst the victims was the commander of 
Frederick's army. Frederick did actually sail, but, finding 
himself ill, put in at Otranto, and the expedition broke up. 
Gregory was furious. He could not deny the fever, for 
bishops had died, but he held Frederick responsible for it, 
though on what pretext it is hard to say. Accordingly he ex- 
communicated Frederick, and laid every place where he might 
chance to be under interdict. 

Frederick replied to the papal fulminations with dignity ^ 
and appealed to the sense of justice of his fellow-sovereigns, 
declaring that the papacy was swollen with avarice and pride, 
that its demands were insatiable, and that it presumed to deal 
with emperors, kings, and princes as if they were tributaries. 
Frederick was popular, the papal emissaries failed to turn his 
1228. subjects either in Italy or Germany from their allegiance, and 
there was such a tumult in Rome itself that Gregory had to fly. 

The pope now forbade Frederick to go to the Holy Land 
at all, but he disregarded the prohibition, and went on with 
his preparations. When he had sailed and reached Acre in 
safety, he found that papal messengers had preceded him, 
carrying the interdict, and commanding the faithful to stand 
aloof. The patriarch of Jerusalem and the leaders of the Hos- 
pitallers and Templars obeyed the pope, but Hermann of Salza, 
grand master of the Teutonic knights, and many others, dis- 
regarded the papal injunction and supported Frederick. 


Realising how absurd it was to use brute force where 
negotiation was possible, the emperor corresponded with the 
sultan of Eg3^pt, and at length concluded a treaty for ten 1229. 
years, in which his sovereignty in Jerusalem was recognised, 
and by which Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jerusalem, and other 
places were restored to the Christians. In Jerusalem the 
Saracens only retained the use of the Mosque of Omar for 
their worship. 

" Thus in a few days," wrote Frederick to the king of 
England, " by a miracle rather than by strength, that business 
hath been brought to a conclusion which for a length of time 
past many chiefs and rulers of the world, among the multi- 
tude of nations, have never been able till now to accomplish by 
force, however great, nor by fear." 

Frederick next proceeded to Jerusalem to be crowned. 
The interdict had preceded him, and no priest would assist in 
the ceremony, so the emperor took himself the crown from 
the altar, and placed it on his own head. Hermann of Salza 
read a statement in which Frederick defined his position, and 
generously excused the action of the pope on the ground of 
ignorance of the facts. The emperor then showed his broad- 
minded spirit by visiting the Mosque of Omar. All this was 
gall itself to the pope, whose fury could not loe controlled. 

The emperor returned to Europe, having won golden 
opinions from the Saracens, and Hermann of Salza declared 
that he could have obtained more important concessions had 
the clergy supported him. He had been thrice excommuni- 
cated with tell, book, and candle, yet had done more for the 
Christians than any other crusader, and had done it without 
the shedding of blood. Pope Gregory, however, repudiated 
the treaty, declaring it to be a monstrous attempt to reconcile 
Christ and Belial. 

During Frederick's absence, John de Brienne, Frederick's 
father-in-law, who had quarrelled with him as soon as he 
claimed sovereignty in Palestine, was employed by the pope to 
devastate his dominions in Naples. But on the emperor's re- 


turn the papal troops were quickly driven over the frontier 
and the papal dominions themselves were threatened. Seeing 
this the pope now begged for peace, and the treaty of San 
1230. Germano was the result. 

The peace between Frederick and the sultan was not well 
observed by either Christian or Moslem. Many on both sides 
rejoiced in war and were eager for plunder. Such looked upon 
peace as a calamity. Had Frederick dwelt permanently in 
Palestine he would have worked wonders, but a non-resident 
sovereign had little influence. Collisions occurred between 
Moslems and Christians, and pilgrims were often in bodily 
fear. Complaints reached Europe, and the pope and emperor, 
reconciled for the time, proclaimed another crusade. The 
sultan hearing of the preparations for war drove the Latins 
from Jerusalem, and the treaty was at an end. 

Several nobles, chiefly French, responded to the papal pro- 
clamation. But when they met at Lyons to arrange their 
plans Gregory had again picked a quarrel with the emperor 
and had changed his mind about the crusade. The pope ac- 
cordingly ordered the crusaders to go home, but they refused 
to obey, nor would they listen to Frederick when he also ad- 
vised postponement. When they pleaded their vows, pope 
Gregory oflered to relieve them from these, on condition that 
they paid into the papal treasury the sum it would cost them 
to go to the Holy Land. It is not wonderful that this proposi- 
tion caused great scandal among the people. 
1239. The crusaders would not be diverted from their purpose, so 

they set sail and arrived safely at Acre. Next year they were 
joined by Richard of Cornwall with an English band. He also 
sailed notwithstanding papal prohibition. The united bands 
raided Turkish territory and did much mischief. Fortunately 
for them the sultans of Egypt and Damascus were at war, 
so the sultan of Egypt renewed the treaty which had been 
made with Frederick and gave the crusaders an excuse for 
returning home. 

Hardly was Jerusalem again in the hands of the Latins 


than it was again lost, and in a strange way. For some time 
the Tartars had been pouring desolation over the world. East- 
ward to China, westward to the Baltic, southward to the Per- 
sian Gulf the hosts of Genghis Khan had spread. Russia, 
Poland and Hungary had been overrun. Even in England 
such terror was caused by a rumoured invasion that the east 
coast fishermen feared to put to sea. 

The Charismians, Turks dwelling south of the Sea of Aral, 
only one degree less ferocious than their pursuers, had been 
driven from their habitations by these marauders, and had 
made themselves new settlements in the Euphrates Valley. 
Many became mercenaries, selling their services to the highest 

The sultan of Egypt, pressed hard by his enemies in 
Damascus and Syria, made alliance with the Charismians. As 
10,000 or 20,000 of them were galloping south to join his 
standard, they suddenly found themselves close to Jerusalem. 
Eager for booty they fell upon the city at once, and so unex- 
pectedly that no resistance could be made. Such of the in- 
habitants as had the chance of flying fled, those who remained 
were massacred. With a refinement of cruelty which it would 
be hard to parallel, they then displayed Christian banners on 
the walls and rang the bells of the churches to intimate to 
those who had fled that they might return in safety. When 
they did return they also were foully murdered. Thirty 
thousand are said to have perished. Not only was the city 
sacked, but the very tombs were rifled by these savages. The 
contents of the tombs of the Latin kings of Jerusalem from 
the days of Godfrey were burned. 

Christians and Moslems alike united against this brutal foe, 

and an army was gathered at Ascalon. The Saracens, who 

best understood the nature of an enemy of this sort, coiuiselled 

a Fabian policy, arguing that if the Charismians were left 

alone their forces would melt away through the eagerness of 

each man to make sure of the booty he had acquired. But the 

Christians would not wait, and the foe was thereupon attacked 
VOL. II. 33 


1244. at Gaza. A terrible battle was fought. It lasted for two days, 
the carnage was fearful, and the crusading forces were annihi- 

The Christians never again held their own in Palestine. 
They now possessed only one or two seaports. The Latin 
kingdom in Palestine was at an end. 

The Charismians reaped no benefit from their conquest. 
They quarrelled with the sultan of Cairo, enemies arose against 
them on many sides, and soon they disappeared altogether from 



There was a time when the fall of Jerusalem would have 1244. 
caused much excitement in Europe. But that day had gone 
by. Pope Innocent IV. advocated a new crusade, and de- 
manded funds from the faithful. But the papal voice had 
ceased to charm. Frederick, who was in any case an excom- 
municated man, was busy defending his empire against the 
Tartars. Italy was distracted by feuds between Guelph and 
Ghibelline ; Spain had Saracens at her own doors ; England 
was at war with Scotland and Wales, and her barons and priests 
were losing no opportunity of remonstrating against papal 
rapacity, and protesting against further taxes for crusading. 

The only sovereign who responded to the papal appeal was 
Louis IX. of France. Louis was a good man and highly 
esteemed, religious, ascetic, brave. If self-devotion alone 
could have qualified a man to lead a crusading army, Louis 
could have led it well. But more than that was needed, and 
his unfitness for the post was apparent to all but himself. 
Even his bodily constitution unfitted him for the task. He 
was far from strong. It was in fact when lying at death's 
door that he vowed that, should his life be spared, he would 
undertake a crusade. His relatives and councillors, even the 
prelates themselves, tried to dissuade him from the enterprise. 
But all did not avail. Mistaking obstinacy for conscientious- 
ness, Louis persisted in going to the war, and, when his people 
saw that he could not be dissuaded, they supported him loyally 
both with money and with men. 

The expedition assembled at Aigues Mortes, a town on the 1248. 
Mediterranean, near the mouth of the Rhone, and when all 



was ready Louis sailed, leaving his mother, Blanche of Castile, 
to act as regent. Marguerite, his queen, and his brothers, 
Charles of Anjou and Robert of Artois, with their countesses, 
accompanied him. 

They wintered at Cyprus, then ruled by Henri de Lusignan, 
and there Prince de Joinville, the famous French chronicler, to 
whom we are indebted for a biography of Louis, entered his 
personal service. 

The wintering at Cyprus did the army no good. It brought 
relaxation of discipline, and immorality and pestilence ensued. 
During the winter the grand masters of the Templars and Hos- 
pitallers came across from Palestine, and expressed their belief 
that good terms could be obtained from the Saracens by nego- 
tiation with the sultan, and begged that the king should try 
this before proceeding to war. But Louis looked upon the 
suggestion as casting a slur on his military prowess, and as in 
some way derogatory to his vow, so he persisted in war. 

During residence in Cyprus it was arranged that the des- 
tination of the expedition should be changed, and that they 
should proceed in the first instance to Egypt. This was a 
mistake. Egypt was now in a healthy condition, and under a 
strong ruler. The expedition had been well advertised, and 
the delay in Cyprus had enabled the sultan to prepare a great 
army and fleet to meet the enemy. 
1249. The crusaders sailed in the spring ; a well-equipped fleet 

of 800 vessels. The fleet was scattered by a storm, and Louis 
had to return to Cyprus with the loss of half his armament. 
A second attempt was made, and Damietta was reached in 
safety with an armament somewhat reduced but still formid- 
able. The landing was opposed, but the crusaders showed 
great determination, and the Egyptians retired. That night 
Damietta was set on fire by the Moslems and abandoned, and 
the crusaders entered without striking a blow. 

Had the crusaders advanced upon Cairo in the first flush 
of victory all might have been well. Had they garrisoned 
Damietta, and proceeded to capture other Egyptian seaports, 


things might have been .still better. Instead, they lingered at 
Damietta for six months, spending the time in forays, feasting 
and debauchery. When at last they set out, they found that 
the Moslems had not been idle. The sultan had gathered his 
forces from every quarter, and a huge army lay at Mansurah, 
strongly entrenched. 

When the crusaders approached Mansurah they found their 
advance checked by a deep and broad canal. Showing a strange 
lack of engineering skill, they lay supine for two months, 
whilst hostile forces assailed them with discharges of arrows 
and stones and Greek fire. 

At length a Bedouin revealed a ford not far distant, and 
the crusaders prepared to cross. In the early morning their 
vanguard dashed to the other side and put a troop of Moslems 
to flight. They had done well, but their folly spoiled all. 
Instead of waiting to protect the passage of the main body, the 
knights who formed the vanguard chased the flying Moslems, 
and dashed after them into Mansurah. They had rushed 
blindly into a trap. No sooner were they within the walls 
than Bibars, the Moslem commander, shut the gates and rallied 
his flying forces. Street fighting ensued, from the roofs of 
the houses missiles were thrown, and in a few hours 1,500 
crusaders, the flower of the army, were destroyed. Worse 
followed. Profiting quickly by the terrible blunder of the 
vanguard, the Moslem forces gathered on the bank of the canal 
and attacked each detachment as it crossed. Unaware for some 
time that they were without the protection of their vanguard, 
they were thrown into confusion, and only the fiercest heroism 
saved the army from annihilation. 

Three days later Bibars again appeared in force and another 
terrific battle was fought. The French held their own, but 
their army was so reduced that further advance was manifestly 
impossible. Instant retreat to Damietta would have saved the 
remnant, for the city was well garrisoned and could have given 
them effective shelter. But there was no wisdom in that camp. 
The leaders determined to hold their ground and clung to a 


place where the very river was putrid with the corpses of the 
slain. Meanwhile the Moslems gathered round like kites on 
carrion. Soon disease and famine made the choice one between 
retreat and death, and the remnant of the host turned. The 
misery of the retreat baffles description. Organised defence 
was out of the question, the Moslems worked their will. The 
king and nobles were captured, the rank and file chose between 
Islam and death. Not one man would have left Egypt alive, 
but that some Moslems, wiser and more merciful than the 
others, reminded them that dead men paid no ransom. 

After lingering in prison for a time Louis was released on 
promise of payment of a huge ransom and the surrender of 
Damietta. A ten years' truce was also concluded between the 
Christian powers represented by the king of France and the 
Moslem princes of Egypt and Syria. 

Louis now sailed for Acre with the remnant of his host. 
Though his mother the regent, and the ministers who repre- 
sented him in France begged him to return at once the sense 
of humiliation was so great that he postponed his departure as 
long as he could. For nearly four years he remained in the 
Holy Land trying to do some good by restoring the fortifica- 
tions of such seaports as were still in Christian hands, and 
making a few pilgrimages. He refused to visit Jerusalem 
though offered a safe conduct by the sultan. 

Louis' residence in the Holy Land was the more tolerable 
as the sultans of Egypt and Damascus were at war and each 
was eager to conciliate Louis, hoping to obtain his aid against 
the other. 

The death of Blanche of Castile at length made Louis' 
return to France imperative, and he set sail. Fourteen vessels 
served to convey such forces as remained ; he had left Cyprus 
with 800. The character of the king may be gathered from 
the fact that each of the ships had an altar for hourly prayers 
during the voyage. The fleet had a stormy passage, but at last 
reached France, and Louis made his public entry into Paris 
1254. after an absence of no less than six years. 


After the departure of Louis from Palestine there was fierce 
dissension among the Christians, The Venetians and Genoese 
fought a great naval battle off Acre, and the Genoese were so 
severely beaten that they abandoned the city and established 
themselves at Tyre. The Templars and Hospitallers fought a 
pitched battle, and scarcely a Templar in Acre escaped alive. 
But for their dread of the Tartars who were still pressing on 
from the East, the Moslems could easily have driven the Franks 
from Palestine altogether. But it was not a time for fresh 
conquest when their very existence was in danger. 

When the Tartars had overthrown the caliphate of Bagdad 
and were marching through Syria towards Egypt, the Mame- 
lukes, the bodyguard of the sultan of Cairo since the days of 
Saladin, deposed the sultan and put Koutouz their own leader 
in his place. Koutouz met the Tartars at Tiberias and de- 
feated them